Entries in Earthquake (6)


Obama Following Turkey Earthquake Reports With ‘Great Concern’

Official White House Photo/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- Although the extent of casualties from the powerful earthquake that shook Turkey on Sunday are unknown, President Obama expressed condolences to the families of the victims.

In a statement released by the White House on Sunday, the president said the U.S. has been following reports of the earthquake in Turkey’s eastern province of Van with great concern.

“On behalf of the American people, I express my deepest condolences to the families of the victims,” said Obama. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the brave men and women who are working to bring assistance to this stricken region.”

The U.S. stands ready to assist Turkey, Obama said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed the president’s vow to help authorities in Turkey, if needed. Turkey has been an important U.S. ally in the war on terror.

The 7.2-magnitude earthquake collapsed about 45 buildings and left at least 85 people dead, according to local media reports.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Capitol Buildings Sustain Visible Damage from Earthquake

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Around the U.S. Capitol complex Wednesday there was some visual damage from Tuesday’s 5.8 magnitude earthquake.

Much of the damage is on the House of Representatives side -- in the Rayburn office building committee hearing rooms located on the first floor within the complex.

The House Financial Services Committee, House Judiciary, and House Oversight Committee hearing rooms all show visible damage -- long cracks in the plaster walls, paint chipping and cracks over doorways.

A skinny but long crack about 25 feet long on both sides of the House Financial Services Committee hearing room seems to be among the worst. Over the doorway of the hearing room is a small crack between the doorway and wall corner.

But all in all officials on Capitol Hill describe the damage as minimal.

“We came away virtually unscathed,” Eva Malecki, a spokeswoman for the Architect of the Capitol, told ABC News Wednesday after assessing damages through the night and into Wednesday morning following the earthquake.

Malecki said that the Senate side office buildings and hearing rooms endured similar damage but overall not too much -- mostly cracks in the plaster walls, paint chipping, and a few tiles that had popped out and could be easily restored.

After immediate assessments Tuesday afternoon following the earthquake that continued Wednesday, the office of the Architect of the Capitol has been making repairs and cleaning up to open the doors to the Capitol complex as usual Wednesday.  U.S. Capitol tours are still taking place Wednesday.

The longer-term projects, such as the long cracks in the committee hearing rooms, will be taken care of in a “timely manner,” Malecki says, over the next few weeks.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Capitol, Pentagon, State Department Shaken by 5.8 Magnitude Earthquake

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Capitol, Pentagon, State Department and surrounding buildings all emptied Tuesday following a 5.8 earthquake that sent government workers scrambling.

Sirens sounded outside U.S. House office buildings on the south side of Capitol Hill as staffers in neon yellow "floor warden" vests directed workers away from their offices.

Police officers said they were ordered to evacuate all of the U.S. Capitol complex.

All congressional buildings have been evacuated and will remain closed until "structural assessment" of each is conducted. Those inspections are underway now, with more teams on the way, said Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider at 3:46 p.m. ET.

 "We've got a lot of buildings, a lot of floors to cover," she said, providing no estimate for when they will reopen.

The police department has been "hampered" in being able to quickly coordinate with other agencies by "signals jammed," she said. But operations within the department on the Hill were going smoothly.

At the Pentagon and State Department, workers also streamed outside, though not under an official evacuation order.

Hundreds of people were outside of the Pentagon after the tremors were felt when minutes later, an alarm was sounding in the hallways telling Pentagon employees that a pipe had burst due to the earthquake and there was “significant standing water” on an upper-floor area of the building.  People who work in that immediate area are being told to avoid it.

But despite that announcement, Pentagon police later informed staff to return to their offices.

The Pentagon-wide alarm system was installed after this building was targeted during 9/11.

Meanwhile, across the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., the State Department was also not under evacuation orders. No instructions were given over the loudspeakers throughout the building and Diplomatic Security confirms there was no requirement to leave. That said, many employees left the building on their own.

The State Dept.’s daily briefing had just ended when the quake hit. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is on vacation in New York and was not in the building.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


DC Quake Tremors Reach Obama on Vineyard

TOBY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images(VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass.) -- President Obama was playing golf Tuesday at the Farm Neck Golf Course on Martha’s Vineyard when the 5.8 earthquake hit the East Coast.

While the president did not actually feel the quake, many residents and vacationers on the island felt a swaying for about 15 seconds, including the White House press corps working out of a hotel in Vineyard Haven.

The quake hit at 1:51 p.m. Eastern time and the president, while on the golf course, had a conference call an hour later, according to Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest. The call included DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Senior Science Advisor for Earthquake and Geologic Hazards with the Department of Interior Dr. David Applegate, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Greg Jaczko, Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Heidi Avery and Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough to discuss the earthquake and status of critical infrastructure, according to Earnest.

Per written statement, Mr. Obama was told that there were “no initial reports of major infrastructure damage, including at airports and nuclear facilities and that there were currently no requests for assistance.”

The president will be getting regular updates on the situation, the White House spokesman said.   

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


God's Wrath? Japan Quake Stirs Religious Debate

Thomas Northcut/Photodisc(NEW YORK) -- The devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last week has renewed an age-old debate over God's role in a natural disaster. Though he later apologized, Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara said Monday that the calamity that hit his country was "tenbatsu," or divine punishment, for the wickedness of the Japanese people. In some right-wing religious circles, leaders have called the disaster a prophecy about the need for more Japanese to turn to God.

"Because the Japanese people shun God in terms of their faith and follow idol worship, atheism, and materialism, it makes me wonder if this was not God's warning to them," Rev. David Yonggi Cho of South Korea's Yoido Full Gospel Church, considered to be the world's largest single congregation, told the online newspaper News Mission.

Religious experts say that while comments blaming humans for natural disasters are not unusual, they reflect a misplaced desire by some leaders to promote adherence to certain beliefs and behaviors.

"Personal or communal suffering often elicits questions -- why me, why us? That's understandable," said University of Virginia religious studies professor James F. Childress. "Religious perspectives offer ways to help explain or give meaning to such suffering."

"However, it is one thing to use suffering as the occasion for self reflection on personal or communal relations to the divine; it is another to blame the victims of an earthquake, for example, for provoking divine wrath," he said.

U.S. Christian televangelist Pat Robertson said the 2009 earthquake which rocked Haiti and claimed more than 200,000 lives was because the country was "cursed" after making a "pact to the devil." In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina slammed New Orleans, Texas mega-church pastor John Hagee said the storm, which left 1,400 dead, was the "judgment of God" for the sins that took place on its streets. And in 2001, just two days after the Sept. 11 attacks, Rev. Jerry Falwell said the U.S. shared blame for the crisis which had befallen it.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


DOE Sends Equipment, Personnel to Monitor Japan's Nuclear Crisis

Sankei via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Energy has deployed equipment and 34 team members to Japan to help monitor radiation levels and address the country's nuclear crisis, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Tuesday before a House appropriations subcommittee on energy and water development.

"These teams have the skills, expertise and equipment to help assess, survey, monitor, and sample areas," Chu explained, adding that officials from the Energy Department and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission "have maintained close contact with Japanese officials."

DOE officials in Japan include an emergency response representative deployed as part of the USAID Disaster Response Team, a nuclear engineer with Japanese language skills, and a larger contingent to provide monitoring equipment.

Chu stressed the safety of reactors in the U.S. and said repeatedly that the administration will apply lessons learned from the crisis in Japan here at home.

The secretary, who described Japan as being hit with "a double-barreled whammy of devastating earthquake and tsunami," went on to assure the American people that reactors in the U.S. are designed to anticipate these kinds of disasters.

Asked about the future of nuclear power in the U.S., Chu emphasized the importance of relying on a diverse set of energy sources and said it was "probably premature to say anything except we will learn from this."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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