2,000 residents near Japan nuclear plant urged to evacuate

March 11, 2011 12:00 am
Shares

, LONDON, Mar 11 – 1218 GMT: Warning sirens are going off in Hawaii as the island scrambles to evacuate its coastlines after the massive earthquake off Japan triggered tsunami alerts across much of the Pacific Ocean, AFP reports from Honolulu.

"This looks like this will be a very serious event," said John Cummings of the Honolulu Department of Emergency Management.

The Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska placed Hawaii and parts of the US West Coast under a warning following the 8.9-magnitude earthquake, urging residents to stay tuned for more information on rising waves.

The warnings also affected coastal areas through Central and South America as well as the western rim of the Pacific.

Hawaii\’s sirens first sounded at 9:59 pm (0759 GMT Friday) and went off every hour on the hour after that. The first waves were expected to hit the Pacific island state around 2:55 am (1255 GMT) and the US West Coast three hours later.

1213 GMT: Ecuador has ordered preventive coastal evacuations as Pacific Latin American nations from Mexico to Chile issued tsunami warnings following the powerful earthquake off Japan, AFP reports from Chile\’s capital Santiago.

1208 GMT: More detail on the death toll from the earthquake and resulting tsunami that struck over six hours ago off the north-east coast of Japan:

At least 40 people were killed and 39 missing in the massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on Friday, unleashing huge tsunamis along its Pacific coast, AFP in Tokyo reports citing police.

The National Police Agency said at least 40 were dead and 39 missing with 244 others injured.

The public broadcaster NHK put the death toll at 44.

"The damage is so enormous that it will take us much time to gather data," an official at the agency said.

Police in Iwate prefecture, near the epicentre, confirmed the deaths of 17 people there.

1202 GMT: The death toll from Friday\’s massive earthquake off the north-east coast of Japan has risen to at least 40, with 39 missing, AFP reports from Tokyo.

1158 GMT: Japan\’s historic fishing port of Hakodate is a ghost town, AFP reports, after a two-metre (6.6-foot) tsunami ripped through the centre and authorities told 30,000 people to evacuate.

Wooden boxes and fish containers were scattered through the town, while thousands of frightened residents fled coastal areas, fearful that another wall of water could hit the harbour in the south of Japan\’s northern Hokkaido island.

Cars jammed roads as train and cablecar services were suspended. Local residents prepared to spend a restless night at shelters as aftershocks continued to shake houses and tall buildings.

1153 GMT: Japan\’s public broadcaster NHK is reporting Miyagi Prefecture police as saying that a ship with 100 people aboard was carried away by the post-quake tsunami, and its fate is unknown.

1146 GMT: Japan says it is operating on an atomic power emergency footing but says no radiation leaks have been detected among its reactors after the 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck, triggering a huge tsunami.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan declared the emergency to enable authorities to implement emergency measures.

Residents living near plants were not required to take special action, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference.

"We have declared a nuclear emergency state to take every possible precaution," Edano said. "Let me repeat that there is no radiation leak, nor will there be a leak."

"We ask residents in the areas near power plants to act calmly."

A fire broke out in the turbine building of Onagawa nuclear plant in Miyagi Prefecture, but operator Tohoku Electric Power said there were no indications of a radioactive leak, Kyodo News reported.

1140 GMT: Sky News in the UK are reporting that there have been at least 19 aftershocks since the main 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck at 14:46 pm local time (0546 GMT) off the north-east coast of Japan.

1130 GMT: The city of Sendai, the capital of Honshu island\’s Miyagi Prefecture that has bornb the brunt of the damage from the tsunami, is one of Japan\’s 19 designated cities and has a population of over a million people.

Public broadcaster NHK is showing pictures of people taking refuge on the roof of the terminal at the city\’s main airport as cars are seen floating in the surrounding tsunami waters.

1120 GMT: More reports from AFP in the Taiwanese capital Taipei:

Taiwanese authorities say that minor tsunamis set off by a massive quake in Japan reached the island\’s coastline without causing any damage.

Waves around 10 centimetres (four inches) high hit Taiwan\’s east and northeast coasts in the evening, the central weather bureau said.

The bureau later lifted the tsunami warning, saying it did not expect more and bigger waves.

Taiwan\’s central emergency response centre told AFP that the waves had caused no damage.

1110 GMT: The earthquake is the largest ever to hit Japan, the fifth strongest tremor worldwide since 1900 and the seventh strongest in history, according to the US Geological Survey and Japanese seismologists, AFP reports from Tokyo.

1051 GMT: The United Nations says it is ready to send search and rescue teams to quake-hit Japan if the Asian state needs help, AFP reports from Geneva.

"Thirty-five international search and rescue teams are on alert, they are monitoring the situation and ready to help should Japan request aid," said Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"The UN stands ready to help," she added.

1050 GMT: The death toll from the massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake that has hit off northeast Japan — unleashing huge tsunamis along its Pacific coast — has reached 32, including three in Tokyo, AFP reports from the Japanese capital citing press reports.

The figure could not be immediately confirmed by the Metropolitan Police Agency or the Tokyo Fire Department.

Among the dead are a 67-year-old man crushed by a wall and an elderly woman killed by a fallen roof, both in the wider Tokyo area, press reports said.

Three were crushed to death when their houses collapsed in Ibaraki prefecture, northeast of Tokyo.

Police in Iwate prefecture, near the epicentre, confirmed the deaths of 10 people there.

The National Police Agency, charged with compiling nationwide data on natural disasters, could not immediately confirm the figures.

"The damage is so enormous that it will take us much time to gather data," an official at the agency said.

1040 GMT: Marshall Islands disaster management officials have downgraded an earlier tsunami alert to a "tsunami watch" after the massive quake off northeast Japan, AFP reports from the capital Majuro.

"There is no danger as far as we are concerned," said government radio station manager Antari Elbon after receiving notification from officials that the danger of a tsunami had passed.

1038 GMT: New Zealand civil defence officials have issued a tsunami warning for the country and warned people to stay clear of beaches following a massive earthquake in Japan, AFP reports from the capital Wellington.

1030 GMT: Four nuclear power plants closest to a massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan have been safely shut down, the UN atomic watchdog says.

The International Atomic Energy Agency\’s Incident and Emergency Centre "received information from the International Seismic Safety Centre (ISSC) at around 0815 CET (0715 GMT) this morning about the earthquake of magnitude 8.9 near the east coast of Honshu, Japan," the watchdog said in a statement.

1025 GMT: A schoolboy was swept away in Miyagi prefecture — the region on the northeast coast of Japan\’s main Honshu island worst hit by the tsunami — by surging waters and there were fears the toll would keep climbing from the more than two dozen reported dead so far, AFP reports from Tokyo.

The masses of water overwhelmed coastal defences and swallowed up many square kilometres (square miles) of land in the region in scenes reminiscent of the devastation triggered by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

"I\’ve never seen anything like this," said Ken Hoshi, a local government official in Ishinomaki, a Pacific port city in Miyagi prefecture.

"The water came as far as to the train station," hundreds of metres (yards) away from the coast, the 41-year-old official said as his city turned into a flood zone.

1020 GMT: A fire has broke out in the turbine building of Onagawa nuclear plant in Miyagi Prefecture — on Japan\’s main Honshu island — on Friday, AFP in Tokyo cites Kyodo News as reporting, following the huge 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck at 14:46 pm local time (0546 GMT).

 1010 GMT: Taiwan\’s central weather bureau says minor tsunamis set off by a massive quake in Japan reached Taiwan\’s coastline without causing any damage, AFP reports from Taipei.

0958 GMT: Belly-up ships, twisted cars and debris from shattered buildings crashed through the streets of port towns on the east coast of Japan\’s Honshu island on Friday, swept by a tsunami triggered by a huge earthquake which struck off the north-east coast of Japan at 14:46 pm local time (0546 GMT).

A muddy river filled with rubble — some of it on fire and belching smoke — raced across rice fields and through towns near Sendai in Miyagi prefecture, aerial television footage from one of the worst-hit areas showed.

A schoolboy was swept away there by the deadly waters and there were grave fears the toll would keep climbing sharply from the more than two dozen reported dead as a cold night settled over Japan.

The huge wall of sea water unleashed by Japan\’s worst quake on record hit the Pacific coast of Honshu island, sweeping away whole houses and turning harbour areas into scenes of utter devastation.

0950 GMT: The death toll from the massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake that hit off northeast Japan on Friday, unleashing huge tsunamis along its Pacific coast, has reached 26, AFP reports from Tokyo citing press reports.

Among the dead are a 67-year-old man crushed by a wall and an elderly woman killed by a fallen roof, both in the wider Tokyo area, press reports said.

0930 GMT: This is Nick Morrison in London taking over the live report from my colleagues in Hong Kong on the huge 8.9-magnitude earthquake that quake that struck off the northeast coast of Japan\’s main Honshu island at 14:46 pm local time (0546 GMT) Friday.

Stay with us for all the latest updates from our correspondents in Tokyo and in neighbouring countries on the aftermath of the quake as tsunami alerts are triggered across the region.

0906 GMT: Japan\’s National Police Agency, charged with compiling nationwide data on natural disasters, says it cannot confirm the death toll, with one official saying the "damage is so enormous that it will take us much time to gather data."

0902 GMT: Japanese media reports the death toll has risen to 19. Russian officials say the first tsunami waves  have reached reached the Kuril Islands chain, with waves at Shikotan Island reaching one metre (3.3 feet) and waves at Kunashir Island 95 centimeters.

0850 GMT: The Philippine government has strongly urged residents of its Pacific coast to "go farther inland" amid a tsunami threat following a huge earthquake off Japan, AFP repots from Manila.

0845 GMT: Japan warns of imminent strong quake on northeastern Honshu island, AFP reports from Tokyo.

0840 GMT: Japanese press reports say at least eight people have been killed including a 67-year-old man crushed by a wall and an elderly woman killed by a fallen roof, both in the wider Tokyo area. Three were crushed to death when their houses collapsed in Ibaraki prefecture northeast of Tokyo.

0835 GMT: Hawaii is scrambling to evacuate locals and tourists from the coastline after the massive earthquake off Japan triggered a tsunami alert, officials on the Pacific island state said.

0828 GMT: Hawaii orders evacuations after tsunami alert, AFP reports from Honolulu.

0822 GMT: Strong aftershock felt in Tokyo, AFP reports from the Japanese capital.

0821 GMT: Beijing residents report feeling the Japan quake, AFP reports from China\’s capital.

Workers in some office towers in the Chinese capital, more than 2,500 kilometres (1,500 miles) from the quake epicentre, reported via chat sites that they had clearly felt the tremor.

However, no injuries or damage were immediately reported in China.

0817 GMT: Japanese PM says no nuclear plant radiation has been detected, AFP reports..

0809 GMT: Japanese government says \’tremendous damage\’ from quake, AFP reports from Tokyo.

0805 GMT: Hawaii issues tsunami warning, braces for waves, AFP reports from Honolulu.

0804 GMT: The Mariana Islands are on tsunami alert and evacuating citizens after a huge earthquake off Japan, the Pacific state\’s Emergency Management Office (EMO) said, according to AFP reports from the island\’s main city Saipan.

0800 GMT: Here is a recap of the main events surrounding the huge earthquake that has struck off Japan\’s northeast coast:

– A massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake hits Japan at 14:46 pm (0546 GMT), unleashing a monster 10-metre high tsunami that sent ships crashing into the shore and carried cars through the streets of coastal towns.

– Many injuries were reported from Pacific coastal areas of the main Honshu island and the capital Tokyo, police said, while TV footage showed widespread flooding in the area. One person was confirmed dead.

– Helicopter footage showed massive inundation in northern coastal towns, where floods of black water sent shipping containers, cars and debris crashing through towns.

– Mud waves were shown racing upstream along the Natori river in Sendai city, blanketing farm fields.

– In the capital, where millions evacuated strongly swaying buildings, multiple injuries were reported when the roof of a hall collapsed during a graduation ceremony, police said.

– Plumes of smoke rose from at least 10 locations in city, where four million homes suffered power outages. Port areas were flooded, including the carpark of Tokyo Disneyland.

– The US tsunami monitoring center widens a warning to virtually the entire Pacific coast, including Australia and South America, after a massive

Shares

Latest Articles

Most Viewed