Entire communities destroyed; fires rage out of control.
Earthquake, Tsunami Slams Widespread Areas of Japan...Initial death toll and damage not yet calculated
Commentary by Hank F. Miller Jr.
An earthquake with a historic magnitude of 8.9 struck the Tohoku region friday,registering the highest intensity level of 7on the Japanese seismic scale, in Miyagi Prefecture,the Meteorological Agency said. Miyagi and four other prefectures and many people were reported injured. The quake struck at 2:46 P.M.Many fires were reported at scores of locations in northeastern Japan, as well as a huge refinery inferno in Chiba Prefecture.The quake was felt hundreds of kilometers away, including in Tokyo, where buildings swayed for a long time and people swarmed out of them.
The tremor is one of the strongest ever to have occurred in the quake-prone archipelago, according to the Meteorological Agency, with it's magnitude surpassing the 7.9 registered in the1923 Great Kanto Earthquake in Tokyo and its vicinity.
The agency issued a rare warning for a hugh tsunami for the Pacific coastal region from Hokkaido to Tokushima Prefecture.The agency also called for the public to stay alert over the next month for aftershocks that could register 7 or more and trigger more large tsunami's.
A 10-meter tsunami was observed at Sendai port at around 3:55 P.M. A wide area muddy stream was shown on N.H.K TV moving rapidly across a residential area near the Natori River in Sendai. It leveled everything in its path. Other newscasts showed people in their cars trying to get away from the tsunami and were completely engulfed along with about 20 or so cars,boats,ships and homes as well as business offices,being washed into the sea when the tsunami hit Kamaishi Port.
The Sendai airport runways were submerged by the tsunami. The Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi Prefecture automatically halted operations. Its operator, Tohoku Electric Power Co., was checking whether it suffered any damage.
The quake also affected key transportation systems, including Natita International Airport,which shut down its runways for safety checks. Haneda airport in Tokyo initially closed all of its runways for safety checks, but reopened and gave priority to arriving planes.
There were immediate reports of bullet trains derailing, which in the Tohoku region are operated by East Japan Railway Co.All Shinkansen rail services were stopped,as was all cell phone services were halted in various parts of Japan.
NTT Communications reported that long-distance telephone services on land lines stopped, as was international calls, had difficult problems.
Meanwhile, in Tokyo, the Metropolitan Police Department said many people were injured when part of the Kaikan hall in Chiyoda Ward collapsed.several fires were reported. The metropolitan government said for it shut 19 floodgates to gird for possible tsunami hitting in the down town area.In Kyushu Tsunami's have been hitting all night from Fuouoka prefecture to Okinawa.In my area we have been getting hit with waves of 6 foot high or higher we're about 10 minutes away from the sea we are safe here we live high on the mountainside.
But further south of us they are getting waves of about 6' feet to 10' feet at intervals.
In this area of Kyushu it isn't to bad we only got the tsunami but no earthquakes thus far. We were warned to be alert as an earthquake could strike at anytime.
It will take quite a lot of time to clean up and access the extent of damage as well as to know exactly how many people were lost.
Warm Regards with Best Wishes,from Kitakyushu City ,Japan.
Hank F. Miller Jr.
Note: Hank writes a regular column for CNB, When East Meets West. He lived in Gloucester City for 20 years before moving to Japan. He still has many relatives living in the immediate area.
Japan Tsunami: Footage from Sendai Airport