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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Four Year Anniversary Of Great East Japan Earthquake

Today, March 11, 2015, is the fourth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake (東日本大震災 Higashi nihon daishinsai), a 9.0 Magnitude earthquake that struck Japan off the Pacific Coast along the northern edge of the main island.

The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40.5-meters (132.9-feet) in Miyako in Iwate-ken, and in the Sendai area, traveled upwards of 10 kilometers (6.2-miles) inland.

I should note that a study by the University of Tokyo's Earthquake Research Institute (東京大学地震研究所 Tokyo Daigaku Jishin Kenkyu-jo) says that the waters at Miyako reached at least 37.9 meters (124.344 feet) above sea level, almost equaling the 38.2 meters (125.328 feet) meter record of the 1896 Meiji-Sanriku tsunami (also caused by an earthquake).

A small wave from the March 11, 2011 tsunami crashes over a seawall in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture. There were a couple of much bigger ones that day.
The earthquake was so strong, that it moved the main island of Japan (Honshu), 2.4-meters (7.88-feet) east, and shifted the Earth of its axis by best guess estimates of 10- to 25-centimeters (3.94- to 9.84-inches).

The tsunami affected the performance of the Dai-ichi (Big One) nuclear power generating facility in Fukushima, causing multiple near meltdowns, and the eventual no-go area around it, still in effect. No one is quite sure what the environmental damage will be ensue.

Major damage to the backup power and containment systems caused by the earthquake and tsunami resulted in overheating and leaking from some of the Fukushima Big I nuclear plant's six reactors.

According to the International Nuclear Event Scale, where 7 is the sh!ts, each reactor accident was rated separately

Level 5: three reactors - means an accident with wider consequences;
Level 3: one reactor - means a serious accident
Level 7: The Whole Situation - a major disaster

As mentioned, a 20 kilometer (12.43 miles)temporary exclusion zone was established around the Dai-ichi nuclear facility, as well as a 30 kilometer (18.64 miles) voluntary exclusion zone. Basically, if you had a house, school, business or life in the area, you didn't anymore, forced into temporary (still going on) shelters. 

Fukushima evacuation zone - CBC Graphics.
No one knows exactly how many people died during the March 11, 2011 disasters...  however, on February 10, 2014, according to  a Japanese National Police Agency (警察庁 Keisatsu-chō) report: confirmed data includes: 
  • 15,889 deaths;
  • 6,152 injured;
  • 2,601 people missing across 20 prefectures;
  • 127,290 buildings totally-collapsed;
  • 272,788 buildings 'half-collapsed';
  • 747,989 buildings partially-damaged;
  • 4.4 million without electricity;
  • 1.5 million households without water.

Let's just leave it at that as we recall the anniversary of this horrible event.
Andrew Joseph

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