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Updated Japan: the seventh largest quake in history at 8.9

Update:

7.30pm: Reports in of an ‘explosion’ at the Fukushima Power Station. Details still coming through but indications are that it was NOT in the reactor core and blew the covers off the external shell, possibly done on purpose to help relieve pressure. Residents nearby have been told to cover their mouths and shut doors and windows.

According to Twitter user @martyn_williams, a radiation release of 1015 μSv/h, the equivalent to annual dose for human, has been measured near Fukushima nuclear plant.

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4pm: Authorities have evacuated about 45,000 people from within 10km of the Fukushima Number 1 power plant as they release radioactive gases to prevent build-up. Authorities claim there is no health risk associated with this.

The SMH Reports:

“The government declared an atomic emergency amid growing international concern over its reactors after an 8.9 magnitude earthquake, the biggest in Japan’s history, unleashed tsunamis that swept all before them.

The two nuclear plants affected are the Fukushima No.1 and No.2 plants, both located about 250 kilometres northeast of greater Tokyo, an urban area of 30 million people.”

There are about 215,000 people in emergency shelters and up to 50,000 troops to deploy soon to help in the reconstruction effort. There are fears the death toll will top 1000.

11:30 A a boat swept away by the tsunami has been found and all 81 aboard have been  airlifted to safety

11:00 am from ABC News

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At least 402 people have been killed but Japan’s Jiji Press News agency said police and other data showed that the total number of quake dead and missing topped 1,000.

Grim updates indicating appalling loss of life keep emerging from along the hard-hit east coast of northern Honshu island, where the monster waves destroyed more than 3,000 homes.

The Japanese government has declared an atomic emergency because of the “possibility” of a radioactive leak from a nuclear reactor in the quake disaster zone.

8:30am Japanese police say that 184 people are dead, 707 are missing and 947 injured to date

7:30 am: The death toll in Japan could exceed 1000 people.

At least 350 people have been confirmed dead and over 500 are missing. Police in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, say separately that  200 to 300 bodies had been found on the shore.

About 1800 homes in Minamisoma, Fukushima prefecture, have been destroyed, while in Sendai authorities say 1200 houses were toppled by the tsunami.

The small town of Ofunato further north reported 300 houses collapsed or swept away.

An atomic emergency has been declared and thousands of residents living near a nuclear plant in Fukushima have been told to evacuate, amid fears that  a small amount of radiation could be released..

At least 35 boats have been crushed in a northern Californian harbour as a tsunami triggered by the earthquake in Japan began hitting the US west coast after rolling through Hawaii.

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Sendai Airport

Around 7,000 people have been  evacuated from the harbour area in Crescent City, 350 miles north of San Francisco.

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What in the name of all that is good is going on with the world? This is heart-breaking stuff. Late this afternoon, Sydney time, and 3pm local time an earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter Scale shook north-east Japan and sent a tsunami of up to 10m sweeping across farmland. The quake is about 150 times as powerful as the one that struck Christchurch.

The SMH reports:

“A massive surge of water is moving across Japan after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck off shore, prompting a four-metre tsunami.

The earthquake is the most powerful to strike in the region after several in recent weeks. An earthquake of 7.3 magnitude struck the same region last Wednesday. An airport on the east coast has been totally submerged. A fire has broken out in an oil refinery and about five nuclear facilities have been shutdown across the country.

ABC News have reported the regional impacts likely from the quake:

Japanese television is broadcasting pictures of a wall of water kilometres wide moving its way across the countryside, engulfing everything in its path.

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More waves can be seen approaching the coast.

Houses are swept away in Natori city in North Eastern Japan

“An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicentre within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours,” the agency said.

It also put the territories of Guam, Taiwan, the Philippines, the Marshall Islands, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Micronesia and Hawaii under a lower tsunami watch.

The quake, already considered one of the worst in Japan’s history, struck about 382 kilometres north-east of Tokyo at a depth of 24 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said.”

Reports of the tsunami wave have varied from 7.3 to 10m.  Reports are of at least 32 dead, at this stage.

Here is what else we know:

  • The tsunami is higher than some Pacific Islands on the warning alert
  • Large waves are expected to hit Hawaii later tonight.
  • Waves reached almost a kilometre inland in NE Japan
  • A group of Australian MPs are stuck on a Bullet train outside Tokyo.
  • A 7.4 magnitude quake struck just 30 minutes later. Many aftershocks are expected.
  • Communication networks are down.
  • It is the seventh biggest recorded earthquake of all time.
  • Tokyo is in shut down until the all clear is given.
  • The original quake lasted for about 4 minutes.
  • The UN has search and rescue teams on standby and Acting Australian PM Wayne Swan says help will be made available if asked
  • The Kyodo news agency, citing police in Miyagi prefecture, reports a ship carrying 100 people was carried away by the tsunami.
  • Tokyo, with a population of 12 million, sits on the junction of four tectonic plates: the Eurasian, North American, Philippine and Pacific. The sudden bending or breaking of any plate can trigger an earthquake.
  • Tokyo experiences tremors from earth shakes and quakes about every five minutes with quakes felt by people up to 2000 times a year.

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ABC News is reporting that the quake is the largest ever to strike Japan.

“The 8.9-magnitude earthquake which ravaged Japan and sparked a tsunami on Friday is the largest quake to ever hit the country, an Australian expert says.

Do you know anybody in the affected zone? The DFAT number for Australians concerned about family and friends in Japan is 1300 555 135

Our thoughts with all involved.

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