dead in tsunamiNature so merciless … blazing home among those swept away in Natori
A MASSIVE earthquake has devastated Japan — sending a 33ft tsunami smashing into the country’s north-eastern coast.
Thousands of people are feared to have been killed in the disaster and there are growing fears of a nuclear emergency with authorities saying radiation is 1,000 TIMES above normal in a control room at a plant in Fukushima.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has ordered people living within six miles of the site to evacuate and more than 3,000 have been forced to flee.
The plant’s operator admitted there could have already been a radioactive leak.
Engineers are trying to release radioactive vapour to ease the pressure.
Levels are more than EIGHT TIMES above normal at a monitoring post near the main gate outside the building.
The quake, which measured 8.9 on the Richter scale, is the largest in the country’s recorded history.
Japanese police said 200 to 300 bodies have been found washed up in an area close to the tsunami-devastated city of Sendai. Another 500 people are still missing.
The giant wall of water earlier crashed into the coastal city tossing cars around and washing away buildings as a huge fire ravaged an oil refinery.
A ship carrying around 100 people was swept away by the tsunami — its fate remains unknown.
Reports also say that two trains, including one passenger train, have been missing since the wave struck.
The tsunami created by the quake has now hit the West Coast of the US with at least five people being swept out to sea.
Waves also ripped docks out of harbours in California and four people were rescued from the water in Oregon.
In the north of Japan a dam in Fukushima Prefecture broke and washed away homes and buildings.
The quake – 8,000 times bigger than the one that struck New Zealand last month – has left four million people without power and the Japanese Army has been deployed to help with relief efforts.
The quake is the fifth biggest in the world since 1900.
The Japanese Government declared a state of emergency after a nuclear power plant’s cooling system failed as the four stations closest to the epicentre were shut down.
Japan has notified the UN nuclear watchdog – the International Atomic Energy Agency – that a heightened state of alert has been declared at the plant.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the warning was a precaution, adding: “We launched the measure so we can be fully prepared for the worst scenario.
“We are using all our might to deal with the situation.”
Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan said: “We should all help each other to minimise the damage.”
The quake, which struck about 240 miles northeast of Tokyo at 5.46am British time, sparked tsunami alerts across the Pacific.
Hawaii was evacuated as the West Coast of the United States and Canada were put on red alert.
Red Cross experts warned the waves could be higher than many of the Pacific islands it could wash over.Collapse … road couldn’t withstand force of earthquake
Spokesman Paul Conneally said: “Our biggest concern is the Asia Pacific region. The tsunami is a major threat. It could go right over them.”
In several locations along Japan’s coast, shocking footage showed massive damage from the tsunami, with cars, boats and even buildings being carried along by waters.
Local news station NHK showed footage of one ship being swept away and ramming into a bridge.Alone … man stands on roof as he watches waters rage below
Junichi Sawada, an official with Japan’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency, said: “This is a rare major quake, and damage could quickly rise by the minute.”
The quake struck at 2.46pm local time and was followed by five powerful aftershocks within about an hour, the strongest measuring 7.1.
The meteorological agency immediately issued a tsunami warning for the country’s entire Pacific. NHK warned those near the coast to get to safer ground.
Tsunami alerts were issued to a vast area of the globe, including areas as far apart as New Zealand, Latin American and eastern Russia.
A watch was also issued for Guam, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia as well as Hawaii.
Brian Baptie, a seismologist from the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, said: “This is a earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale.
“To put that into some sort of context, it’s 8,000 times larger than the one that destroyed Christchurch last month, and on a similar scale to the Chile earthquake in February last year.
“An earthquake of this scale is capable of causing huge damage and destruction, and a tsunami that high will cause complete devastation.”
The seismologist said it was difficult to judge the scale of the tsunami, but he said this earthquake was smaller than the one that struck off northern Sumatra in 2004, a magnitude 9.3 quake which set off the Boxing Day tsunami, killing thousands of people.
UK airlines cancelled flights to Tokyo following the devastating earthquake.
Speaking today Prime Minister David Cameron said the quake was a “terrible reminder of the destructive power of nature”.
He added: “Everyone should be thinking of the country and its people and I have asked immediately that our Government look at what we can do to help.”
Mr Cameron was speaking in Brussels where he was attending an emergency summit of EU leaders called to discuss the crisis in Libya.
Foreign Secretary William Hague said there was so far no news of any British casualties as a result of the earthquake.
He said: “My thoughts are with the people of Japan at this time. We are in contact with the Japanese government and I have asked our ambassador in Tokyo to offer all assistance we can as Japan responds to this terrible disaster.
“We are also working urgently to provide consular assistance to British nationals. Our embassy and consulates-general across Japan are in touch with local authorities and making contact with British nationals to provide consular assistance.
“We have set up a crisis centre in the Foreign Office to co-ordinate our response and offer advice to anyone concerned about relatives or friends in Japan. We are not aware of any British casualties at this time.”
Matthew Holmes, a 27-year-old from Nottingham, was at work in Shimokitazawa, west central Tokyo, when the earthquake hit.
He described the sensation as “like many shocks, joined up by a feeling of being on a wave”.
Mr Holmes, who is teaching English after studying for a journalism MA at Sheffield University, said: “I was teaching a class at the time and it’s the first time I’ve been under the table. People were genuinely worried when they told me to get down.
“We’re only on the second floor, and I thought they were looking after the uninitiated foreigner, but then they really seemed to hit a strange auto-pilot panic.
“I have been in Tokyo for three years but never felt something like that.
“People in their 50s are telling me that neither have they.”
He said he was still feeling aftershocks hours after the earthquake, but described himself as being “one of the lucky ones” as he was unharmed.
The quake struck at a depth of six miles, about 80 miles off the eastern coast. The area is 240 miles north-east of Tokyo.
In downtown Tokyo, large buildings shook violently and workers poured into the street for safety.
TV footage showed a large building on fire and bellowing smoke in the Odaiba district of the capital.
In central Tokyo, trains were stopped and passengers walked along the tracks to platforms.
Osamu Akiya, 46, was working in Tokyo at his office in a trading company when the quake hit.
It sent bookshelves and computers crashing to the floor, and cracks appeared in the walls.
He said: “I’ve been through many earthquakes, but I’ve never felt anything like this.
“I don’t know if we’ll be able to get home tonight.”
Footage on NHK from their Sendai office showed employees stumbling around and books and papers crashing from desks.
Tokyo airport was closed. A large section of the ceiling at the one-year-old airport at Ibaraki, about 50 miles northeast of Tokyo, fell to the floor with a powerful crash.
Several quakes had hit the same region in recent days, including a 7.3 magnitude one on Wednesday.
Thirty minutes after the quake, tall buildings were still swaying in Tokyo and mobile phone networks were not working.
Japan’s Coast Guard has set up a task force and officials are standing by for emergency contingencies, Coast Guard official Yosuke Oi said.
He said: “I’m afraid we’ll soon find out about damages, since the quake was so strong.”
The tsunami roared over embankments in Sendai city, washing cars, houses and farm equipment inland before reversing directions and carrying them out to sea.
Flames shot from some of the houses, probably because of burst gas pipes.
TV announcers urged viewers near the shore to move to strong concrete buildings and stay above the third floor.
The Foreign Office has handed out these numbers for anyone to contact if they are worried about friends and family.
Calling from the UK: 020 7008 0000. +81 66120 5600 embassy in Tokyo. +81 35211 1100 consulate in Osaka.
APOCALYPSE JAPANThousands feared dead in tsunami | The Sun |News