Today’s news are really bugging everyone of us. Is really 2012 for real? I hope not.
An earthquake with 8.9 magnitude in Japan triggered a tsunami that significantly reports damages.
The quake struck at 2:46 pm local time (11:16 am IST) and alerts were issued across the Pacific, including areas as far away as South America, US west coast, Canada and Alaska.
Australia, Philippines, Taiwan and Indonesia also issued tsunami alerts reviving the memories of the 2004 tsunami and the disaster that it wrought in Asia.
For Japan, used to frequent earthquakes of powerful proportions, this one seemed to be devastating that the tidal waves swept fishing boats, cars and buildings that were seen bobbing in the water. Several other boats and ships were lying on their sides.
The disaster also left the entire region in dark without power while nuclear power stations shut automatically.
At least 60 people were killed, Kyodo news agency said.
Japan declared a state of atomic power emergency after the earthquake, while saying that no radiation leaks had been detected at or near any nuclear power plants so far, it said.
Residents in the vicinity of the nuclear plants have been asked to leave.
The International Atomic Energy Agency was scrambling for details from contacts with Japan’s industry ministry as it said in a statement that at least four nuclear power plants “closest to the quake have been safely shut down”.
According to the ministry, a total of 11 nuclear reactors shut down automatically at the Onagawa plant, Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 plants and Tokai No. 2 plant after the biggest-magnitude quake in the country’s modern history.
A fire broke out in one of the nuclear facilities but authorities claimed they had detected no abnormalities such as radiation leakage.
A refinery and a major steel plant were ablaze while a hotel collapsed in the city of Sendai, close to the epicentre and about 300 km from Tokyo, and people were feared buried in the rubble. The airport in the city was also invaded by the giant tidal waves.
Stunning TV footage showed the tsunami carrying the debris and fires across Sendai, home to more than 10 lakh people.
In Tokyo, subway system stopped following the quake, sirens wailed and people rushed out of the buildings. But cold conditions outside forced people to go back into homes for warmth.
The quake sparked fires in several areas including Tokyo and there had also been powerful aftershocks. Tsunami waves that hit Japan’s Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures caused “tremendous damage”, officials said.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the quake caused “major damage in broad areas” but nuclear power plants were not affected.
“Our government will make all-out efforts to minimise the damage caused by the earthquake,” he told a hurriedly-called press conference.
Kan asked the public to stay calm and asserted that there were no reports of radiation leak from the areas housing nuclear plants.
US Ambassador to Japan John Roos said that US forces stationed in the country were ready to work with authorities here to help them cope with the massive earthquake.
“I want to have the Defence Ministry and the Self-Defense Forces work with the US military if necessary,” Japanese Defence Minister Toshimi Kitazawa was quoted as saying at the outset of an emergency meeting held at the ministry.
The tsunami warning was also extended to the Pacific coast of Russia and Hawaii. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said the waves could extend as far as Chile.
The Japanese government sent the Self-Defense Force to Miyagi Prefecture following a request from Governor Yoshihiro Murai after the powerful quake hit the region, where a major blackout occurred across a wide area.
Kyodo said the Narita airport was temporarily shut down and people were asked to evacuate terminals. After a short break, the airport opened for departing flights.
Thousands of people were stranded at Narita and Haneda airport terminals. More than 700 domestic flights were cancelled.
Fire department officials in Osaki, Miyagi prefecture, said they received at least 20 reports of injuries. People had been hit by falling objects and trapped under debris.
In Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward, about 10 people were injured when part of the roof of a hall collapsed, police said.
Tokyo stocks fell sharply, with the Nikkei hitting a five-week closing low following the quake.