|Affected Areas of Japan |
On Friday 11th March, Japan was hit by their worst earthquake since records began 140 years ago. Yet despite registering 8.9 magnitude on the Richter Scale, the earthquake itself caused relatively little damage, because Japanese building regulations mean that all high-rise blocks are designed to sway and withstand the force of earthquakes
What caused all the damage was a massive tsunami - triggered by the earthquake, a wall of water 20 to 30 feet high rushed in from the sea at an estimated 25mph and devastated the east coast of Japan. The television footage of the tsunami was horrifying, and I could only watch helpless as entire communities were destroyed under the relentless force of the wave as it demolished boats, ships, buildings, trucks, cars, trains, trees and even small planes, and swept the debris up to six miles inland
The earthquake itself was caused by a massive build-up of seismic pressure underneath Japan, which pushed the Pacific tectonic plate under the Eurasian tectonic plate, and forced waves of energy up to the Earth's surface. The epicentre of the earthquake, where most of the tectonic energy was released, was under the sea about 80 miles east of Sendai, the capital of Miyagi prefecture in north east Japan, and the impact is thought to have lifted the ocean floor up by about 10 metres. The energy radiated was equivalent to 1,500 one-megaton nuclear bombs exploding beneath the seabed - or enough to provide all the power requirements of the USA for an entire month. The impact even caused a rupture 186-miles long on the ocean floor, shifted the Japanese coast 2.4 metres, and moved the Earth's axis by around 10 inches
More than 125 aftershocks have also rocked the area, including one this morning that measured 6.2 on the Richter scale. Several large towns and cities are more than a third submerged by water and debris, and more than 1,700 people officially dead or missing, with many more unaccounted for. More than 215,000 people are living in temporary government shelters, over one million households are without water, and some four million buildings are without power. But as if that wasn't enough, Japan is now facing a nuclear crisis after the cooling systems of two reactors at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant failed after the earthquake. On Saturday a huge aftershock-induced explosion blew apart the building housing one of the reactors, and around 170,000 people have been evacuated from a 12-mile radius around the plant
The Japanese Meteorological Association has announced that there is a 70% chance of a magnitude 7 or greater earthquake within the next 3 days, and this may trigger another tsunami and aftershocks of magnitude 6.0 and above. Because of this the Japanese authorities have issued a warning for people to stay away from low-lying coastal areas, and the UK Foreign Office is advising against all non essential travel to Tokyo and the north east of Japan
Mobile and landline telephone reception in the affected areas is intermittent, and there is widespread transport disruption as well as disruption to water supplies and food shortages in the affected areas. In addition, the Tokyo Electric Power Company has warned that three hour electricity outages will be applied to various regions from this evening. All this is all hindering the enormous multi national rescue effort that is gathering pace. Search-and-rescue teams have been sent from Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, USA, Singapore, Britain and Switzerland, and many other countries have sent or offered help too
For news updates and the very latest information on the situation, please refer to Japan’s NHK news network. If you want to check whether someone you know is safe, or if you have information about someone involved in the tragedy, check out the Google Person Finder website
How Can I Help?
We're all praying hard for the victims of this disaster, but what, if anything, can you and I really do to help? The most effective help and support we can give is a donation. Depending on where you in the world you are, here are some of the most reputable relief organisations you can donate to:
- If you're in the USA, you can donate to the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army International, or Save the Children US
- If you're in the UK, you can donate to the British Red Cross, Save the Children, or ShelterBox via the JustGiving website
- If you're in Japan, you can donate to the Japanese Red Cross via Google
- If you're in Australia, you can donate to Australian Red Cross
In addition to the private donations I've already made, I'll be donating all the profits from sales in my Erika Price Etsy shop for at least the next 2 months to the relief effort. What are YOU going to do to help?