April 7, 2011
SENDAI, Japan -- A strong aftershock ripped through northeastern Japan, killing two, injuring dozens and piling misery on a region still buried under the rubble of last month's devastating tsunami.
The quake late Thursday was the strongest tremor since the March 11 jumbo and did some damage, but it did not generate a tsunami and appeared to have spared the area's nuclear power plants. The Fukushima Dai-ichi complex - where workers have been frantically trying to cool overheated reactors since they lost cooling systems last month - reported no new abnormalities. Other facilities retained a connection to the grid or switched to diesel generators after the 7.1-magnitude quake knocked out power to much of the area.
Many people in the area have lived without water and electricity for nearly a month, and the latest tremor sunk more homes into blackness: In total, around 3.6 million households - about 60 percent of residents in the area - were dark Friday, said Souta Nozu, a spokesman for Tohoku Electric Power Co., which serves northern Japan.
Five conventional plants in the area were out, and it was not clear when power would be restored, he said.
Matsuko Ito, who has been living in a shelter in the small northeastern city of Natori since the tsunami, said there's no getting used to the terror of being awoken by shaking.
"I was almost as scared as much as last time," said the 64-year-old while smoking a cigarette outside. "It's enough."
She said she started screaming when the quake struck around 11:30 p.m.
"Something has changed," she said. "The world feels strange now. Even the way the clouds move isn't right."
Thursday's quake initiated a tsunami warning of its own, but it was later canceled. Two people were killed, fire department spokesman Junichi Sawada reported Friday. A 79-year-old man died of shock and a woman in her 60s was killed when power was cut to her oxygen tank. More than 130 people were injured, according to the national police agency.
The temblor's epicenter was in about the same location as the original 9.0-magnitude tremor, off the eastern coast and about 40 miles (65 kilometers) from Sendai, an industrial city on the eastern coast, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was strong enough to shake buildings for about a minute as far away as Tokyo, about 200 miles (330 kilometers) away.
At a Toyota dealership in Sendai, most of a two-story show window was shattered, and thick shards of glass were heaped in front of the building. Items fell off store shelves and a large automated teller machine crept across the floor at a FamilyMart convenience store.
Police directed cars through intersections throughout the city on Friday because traffic lights were out. Small electrical fires were reported.
While the city is far enough inland that it largely escaped tsunami damage, people there lived without regular services for weeks. Within an hour of Thursday's quake, they rushed convenience stores and cleared shelves of ice, water and instant noodles - items that were in short supply after the bigger quake.
The operator of the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi plant said there was no sign the aftershock had caused new problems there. Workers briefly retreated to a quake-resistant shelter in the complex and suffered no injuries.
After the March 11 quake knocked out power in the region, the wave flooded the plant's diesel generators, leaving the complex without any electricity. Workers have been struggling to stem a tide of radiation since, using makeshift methods to pump cooling water into the reactors. That work continued uninterrupted after the latest quake, according to Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
Other facilities along the northeastern coast remained connected to a power source Friday, and the agency said they were all under control. Backup generators kicked in at two - Rokkasho and Higashidori.
At a third north of Sendai - which has been shut down since the tsunami - one of three power lines was supplying electricity, and radiation monitoring devices detected no abnormalities. The Onagawa power plant's spent fuel pools briefly lost cooling capacity, but it resumed because a power line was available for electricity.
"It's the way it's supposed to work if power is lost for any reason," said David Lochbaum, director of the nuclear safety project for the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists.
Associated Press writers Shino Yuasa, Malcolm Foster, Ryan Nakashima, Mari Yamaguchi and Cara Rubinsky in Tokyo and Colleen Slevin in Denver contributed to this report.
Japan on Edge After 7.1 Aftershock; At Least Three Dead04/08/2011
ABC News Radio
(TOKYO) -- At least three people were killed after a 7.1 earthquake rocked northeast Japan Thursday, knocking out power to millions as the country seeks to rebuild and recover from last month's devastating quake, according to Japanese officials.
Right away, it was clear this wasn't just another aftershock as buildings swayed violently for minutes. Close to four million people were immediately plunged into darkness as power plants were knocked offline.
Authorities told people near the coastline to evacuate and head to higher ground as a small wave hit the coast 12:40 a.m. local time Friday. Thursday's quake, which was 25 miles deep, was the strongest aftershock since the 9.0 quake on March 11.
But the greatest concern was for the Fukushima nuclear reactors, where several workers were forced to evacuate.
After midnight in Japan power company officials sought to reassure the public.
"We don't recognize any new leaks so far," a Tokyo Electric Power Company official said, adding that radiation levels remain steady.
The Fukushima Daiichi plant has been on the verge of a meltdown since last month's quake damaged the complex and its cooling system.
At two other facilities, the Onagawa nuclear plant and the Higashidori nuclear plant, the quake caused power outages that forced both onto emergency generators to keep fuel rods safe. At Onagawa, water from spent fuel rods actually spilled onto the floor but was contained.
Experts monitoring the crisis worry that more strain is being put on reactors that are already overburdened.
April 7: Two women walk past debris in an area devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan.
Tsunami Warning Issued After Large Quake Strikes Off Northeastern Japan's Coast
April 07, 2011
Associated Press___________________________________________________________________________________ .
TOKYO -- Japan was rattled by a strong aftershock and tsunami warning Thursday night nearly a month after a devastating earthquake and tsunami flattened the northeastern coast.
Announcers on Japan's public broadcaster NHK told coastal residents to run to higher ground and away from the shore.
The Japan meteorological agency issued a tsunami warning for a wave of up to 6 feet after the magnitude-7.1 aftershock. The warning was issued for a coastal area already torn apart by last month's tsunami, which is believed to have killed some 25,000 people and has sparked an ongoing crisis at a nuclear power plant.
Officials at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant said there's no immediate sign of new problems caused by the aftershock. Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it evacuated two workers there and seven at a sister plant to the south that was not badly damaged.
Officials say Thursday's aftershock hit 16 miles under the water and off the coast of Miyagi prefecture. The quake that preceded last month's tsunami was a 9.0-magnitude.
Buildings as far away as Tokyo shook for about a minute.
In Ichinoseki, inland from Japan's eastern coast, buildings shook violently, knocking items from shelves and toppling furniture, but there was no heavy damage to the buildings themselves. Immediately after the quake, all power was cut. The city went dark, but cars drove around normally and people assembled in the streets despite the late hour.
Paul Caruso, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., said Thursday's quake struck at about the same location and depth as the March 11 quake. It's the strongest of the more than 1,000 aftershocks that have been felt since, except for a 7.9 aftershock that day.
The USGS said the aftershock struck off the eastern coast 40 miles from Sendai and 70 miles from Fukushima. It was about 205 miles from Tokyo.
A Pacific Tsunami Warning Center evaluation of the quake said an oceanwide tsunami was not expected. However, it noted quakes of that strength can cause waves that are destructive locally.
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