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Japan earthquake, tsunami death toll likely above 10,000; survivors worry about supplies

© Unknown
Tokyo - Overwhelmed by a still-growing catastrophe, Japanese authorities struggled Monday to reach buried survivors and the missing, faced roadblocks in delivering aid and raced to contain an expanding nuclear emergency.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan called the crisis the country's toughest challenge since World War II and said that decimated towns along the northeastern coastline were not yet getting the food and supplies they needed.

A series of unstable nuclear plants across the country threatened to compound the nation's difficulties, which started with Friday's double-barreled disasters: first an 8.9-magnitude earthquake, then a tsunami. At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, one containment building housing an overheated reactor had already exploded. A second explosion, about noon local time Monday, destroyed an outer building at another of the plant's reactors.

Officials said a third reactor at the six-reactor facility had lost its cooling capacity, and the U.S. Seventh Fleet, stationed 100 miles offshore, repositioned its ships and aircraft after some if its personnel came into contact with radioactive contamination.

With a government spokesman saying that the reactor units could be in partial meltdown, an alarmed public struggled to understand the safety implications of trace radiation leakage, even as the government said that public safety was not in danger.


Magnitude 4.8 - Near the coast of Nicaragua

Earthquake Details

Magnitude 4.8

* Friday, March 11, 2011 at 16:54:52 UTC
* Friday, March 11, 2011 at 10:54:52 AM at epicenter
* Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones

Location 12.304°N, 87.514°W
Depth 64.3 km (40.0 miles)
Distances 52 km (32 miles) SW of Chinandega, Nicaragua
70 km (43 miles) WSW of Leon, Nicaragua
136 km (84 miles) W of MANAGUA, Nicaragua
1475 km (916 miles) ESE of MEXICO CITY, D.F., Mexico

Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 25.2 km (15.7 miles); depth +/- 2.2 km (1.4 miles)

Cloud Lightning

Another strong quake rattles Japan


Earthquakes Japan can handle, but tsunamis are another story
A powerful earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale has struck the coast of Honshu in eastern Japan.

The quake struck at 8:24 a.m. local time on Sunday (2324 GMT on Saturday), according to the US Geological Survey.

The epicenter was monitored at 37.9813 degrees north latitude and 141.8492 degrees east longitude, with a depth of 24.8 kilometers (14 miles), the Xinhua news agency reported.

The quake was followed by a 6.6-magnitude aftershock two minutes later.

Japan is still conducting rescue operations in the aftermath of Friday's 8.9-magnitude earthquake, which triggered a 23-foot (7-meter) tsunami and over 50 aftershocks, with many measuring more than 6.0 on the Richter scale.

There are concerns that the death toll from the catastrophic earthquake could exceed 1,800.


Photos: Japan Earthquake Aftermath

Three days after a massive earthquake that is now estimated to have registered a 9.0 magnitude, Japanese rescue crews are being joined by foreign aid teams in the search for survivors in the wreckage. Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan has called the disaster the nation's worst crisis since World War II, as the incredible scope of the destruction becomes clear and fears mount of a possible nuclear meltdown at a failing power plant. It is still too early for exact numbers, but the estimated death toll may top 10,000 as thousands remain unaccounted for. Gathered here are new images of the destruction and of the search for survivors.

© REUTERS/Mainichi Shimbun
A wave approaches Miyako City from the Heigawa estuary in Iwate Prefecture after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the area March 11, 2011. Picture taken March 11, 2011.


Japan quake: Toll may cross 10,000 in Miyagi alone

The toll from a magnitude-8.9 earthquake in Japan could exceed 10,000 in the hardest-hit prefecture of Miyagi alone, police said on Sunday, as other officials tried to reassure the public that reactors at two damaged nuclear power plants posed no immediate danger.

"I have no doubt" that the death toll would rise above 10,000 in the prefecture, public broadcaster NHK quoted police chief Takeuchi Naoto as saying.

About 800 deaths had been confirmed so far in Miyagi and other areas in northeastern Japan, which were hit Friday by the quake and a tsunami. No contact could be established with about 10,000 residents of the town of Minamisanriku.

Bizarro Earth

US: Moderate Quake Hits Gulf of California on Saturday Morning

Gulf of California Quake
© The Weather Space
A 5.3-magnitude Earthquake hit the Gulf of California on Saturday morning.

TWS did not receive any reports of damage, however reports of light shaking were received in the city of Los Mochis, Mexico.

The quake hit under 50 miles west of Los Mochis at 7:11 a.m. local time, and struck the very center of the Gulf of California, on the plate boundary.

Sensors indicated the quake was a strike-slip, or side to side motion along the fault-zone.

A 4.7-magnitude aftershock was registered in the same location as the larger quake several hours later.

The USGS data for this quake can be viewed here.

Bizarro Earth

Quake Moved Japan by 8 feet: USGS

© Agence France-Presse
White smokes rises into the air in the badly damaged town of Yamada.
Washington - Japan's recent massive earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded, appears to have moved the island by about eight feet (2.4 meters), the US Geological Survey said.

"That's a reasonable number," USGS seismologist Paul Earle told AFP. "Eight feet, that's certainly going to be in the ballpark."

Friday's 8.9 magnitude quake unleashed a terrifying tsunami that engulfed towns and cities on Japan's northeastern coast, destroying everything in its path in what Prime Minister Naoto Kan said was an "unprecedented national disaster."

The quake and its tectonic shift resulted from "thrust faulting" along the boundary of the Pacific and North America plates, according to the USGS.

The Pacific plate pushes under a far western wedge of the North America plate at the rate of about 3.3 inches (83 millimeters) per year, but a colossal earthquake can provide enough of a jolt to dramatically move the plates, with catastrophic consequences.

"With an earthquake this large, you can get these huge ground shifts," Earle said. "On the actual fault you can get 20 meters (65 feet) of relative movement, on the two sides of the fault."


Japan quake causes day to get a wee bit shorter

You won't notice it, but the day just got a tiny bit shorter because of Friday's giant earthquake off the coast of Japan.

© Unknown
NASA geophysicist Richard Gross calculated that Earth's rotation sped up by 1.6 microseconds. That's because of the shift in Earth's mass caused by the 8.9-magnitude earthquake. A microsecond is one-millionth of a second.


Images - Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami

A massive 8.9-magnitude quake hit northeast Japan on Friday, causing dozens of deaths, more than 80 fires, and a 10-meter (33-ft) tsunami along parts of the country's coastline. Homes were swept away and damage is extensive.

Below is a stunning collection of photographs which show some of the devastation in Japan:

Buildings burn near Sendai Airport, northeastern Japan in the aftermath of the record 8.9 magnitude earthquake March 11, 2011.
© Reuters/Kyodo
People take shelter as a ceiling collapses in a bookstore in the city of Sendai.


NASA Satellite Photos Show Devastation From Japan Quake and Tsunami

© MODIS Rapid Response Team/NASA GSFC
This image from NASA's Aqua satellite shows a major fire raging near the coastal city of Sendai in northeastern Japan after the massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake that struck on March 11, 2011. This image was taken by Aqua's MODIS instrument on March 12.
NASA satellites have snapped new pictures of the devastating floods and fires in Japan from the deadly earthquake and tsunami that struck the country on Friday (March 11).

Photos from NASA's Earth-watching Terra and Aqua satellites paint a stark picture from above of the damage by the massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake and the subsequent tsunami it spawned. They show Japan's northern region, particularly the city of Sendai - which is visible inundated by floodwaters and fires in the satellite views.

The images were taken today (March 12) - one day after the natural disaster as part of NASA's MODIS Rapid Response system, which uses satellites to provide near real-time images of Earth's landmasses every day. The system can snap photos of Japan twice a day, NASA officials said. [Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in Pictures]