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By Edward Payne on 13.3.2024

Japan Hit By Devastating Earthquake

At least 2,000 people are thought to have been killed after an 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit just off Japan’s east coast on Friday. The offshore earthquake set off a massive tsunami which devastated Japan’s north-east coast. The death toll looks likely to be significantly higher, with 10,000 people missing in the port town of Minamisanriku. The events also lead to dramatic fires at oil refineries and damaged two nuclear reactors; there are now fears of a further disaster after a massive explosion and the threat of another at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The massive tremor struck at 14:46 local time and has been widely reported as having a magnitude of 8.9, which would make it 8,000 times stronger than the one which hit Christchurch, New Zealand recently. Other sources estimate the magnitude to be between 8.9 and 9.1, so it could still be record as higher. Either way, the quake is set to go down as at least the 6th largest earthquake ever recorded.

In Tokyo, 400km south-west of the epicentre, the effects were relatively minimal; the city ground to halt after experiencing strong tremors which caused damage to some buildings. However it was on the north-east coast, facing the resulting tsunami, that the effects were absolutely devastating. TV pictures showed the water sweeping through towns, villages and countryside and taking everything with it. Hundreds of bodies have been found but thousands more are missing. The prefectures (or regions) particularly badly hit by the tsunami were Iwate, Miyagi (and the port city of Sendai) and Fukushima, where the two affected nuclear plants are situated.

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