Japan devastated by its largest ever earthquake

11-Mar-11
Japan’s largest earthquake ever- of magnitude 8.9 slammed its eastern coast. The quake struck at a depth of 6 miles (10 kilometers), about 80 miles (125 kilometers) off the eastern coast, located 240 miles (380 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo. The magnitude 8.9 offshore quake was followed by at least 19 aftershocks, most of them of more than magnitude 6.0. Dozens of cities and villages along a 1,300-mile (2,100-kilometer) stretch of coastline were shaken by violent tremors that reached as far away as Tokyo, hundreds of miles (kilometers) from the epicenter. It unleashed a 23 foot (7 meter) tsunami. A large fire erupted at the Cosmo oil refinery in Ichihara city in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo and was burning out of control with 100 foot (30 meter) -high flames whipping into the sky. In northeastern Japan's Miyagi prefecture, a fire broke out in a turbine building of a nuclear power plant. There have been no reports of radioactive leaks or injuries. Several nuclear plants elsewhere along the coast were also partially shut down, with no reports of leakage. A tsunami warning was extended to a number of Pacific, Southeast Asian and Latin American nations, including Japan, Russia, Indonesia, New Zealand and Chile. In the Philippines, authorities said they expect a 3-foot (1-meter) high tsunami. In downtown Tokyo, large buildings shook violently and workers poured into the street for safety. TV footage showed a large building on fire and bellowing smoke in the Odaiba district of Tokyo. The tremor bent the upper tip of the iconic Tokyo Tower. In central Tokyo, trains were stopped and passengers walked along the tracks to platforms. NHK said more than 4 million buildings were without power in Tokyo and its suburbs. Dozens of fires were reported in northern prefectures of Fukushima, Sendai, Iwate and Ibaraki. Collapsed homes and landslides were also reported in Miyagi. Some Japanese nuclear power plants and oil refineries were shut down. Electronics giant Sony Corp, one of the country's biggest exporters, shut 6 factories. The Miyagi prefecture and surrounding areas include major manufacturing and industrial zones, with many chemical, petrochemical and electronics plants. JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp, Japan's top refiner, halted operations at three refineries in Sendai, Kashima and Negishi. A fire was also reported at JFE Holdings Inc's steel plant in Chiba. JFE is the world's fifth-largest steelmaker.
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