Entries in Earthquake (151)


Powerful Earthquake Strikes Wellington, New Zealand

Zoonar/Thinkstock(WELLINGTON, New Zealand) -- New Zealand’s capital Wellington was struck by a 6.5 magnitude earthquake Sunday.

Nobody was reported as having been killed or seriously injured during the earthquake, which lasted a full minute, but the shaking did do some structural damage. Trains were stopped, and even Wellington's parliament building was damaged.

“Quite a decent sort of a kick,” Wellington Police Inspector Marty Parker said, describing the quake. “In fact I've been living in Wellington for a couple of decades and that's probably been one of the best ones, the bigger ones I've felt.”

Numerous utilities were impacted by the earthquake. Parker said it smashed windows, broke water mains and downed telephone and cable lines, leaving large areas without power.

The lack of power has the potential to be a problem, as July is the middle of winter for New Zealand. Luckily, Parker told ABC News that for now temperatures are manageable.

“Normally we get a very cold, southerly winds coming through about this time of year,” he said. “We've just got over a bit of a bad patch and so far, again touch wood, we've got pretty good weather.”

It could have been worse. In 2011, New Zealand was hit by a 6.3 magnitude quake centered near Christ Church that killed 185 people.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Major Earthquake Hits China's Sichuan Province

iStockphoto(SICHUAN, China) -- A major earthquake hit China’s Sichuan province early Saturday morning, killing over 150 people and injuring thousands more.

The earthquake struck just after 8 a.m. in the hills of Sichuan province, in China’s southwest. The epicenter was near the city of Lushan, home to some 124,000 people.  

The quake toppled buildings, triggered landslides and disrupted phone and power service, causing mass confusion in a city that had only recently woken up. Many were still in their bathrobes, according to ABC's Gloria Riviera.

The earthquake, was powerful, and measured at magnitude 6.6 according to the US Geological Survey. China’s seismological bureau measured it slightly higher, a 7. Aftershocks were felt throughout the morning, measuring between magnitude 4.5 up to magnitude 5, according to USGS spokesperson Jana  Pursley.

The death toll rose throughout the morning, and is expected to rise further.

"The current most urgent issue is grasping the first 24 hours since the quake's occurrence, the golden time for saving lives," said Premier Li Keqiang, according to BBC News.

This isn’t the first time the province has been hit by a terrible earthquake. In 2008 Sichuan was hit with a massive earthquake that left 90,000 people dead or missing.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Japan Rattled by 6.2 Magnitude Quake, No Tsunami Warning Issued

Zoonar/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A 6.2 magnitude earthquake shook Japan on Monday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The quake hit at 4:23 p.m. local time in northern Tochigi Prefecture and was 10 kilometers deep. It registered 5 on the Japanese intensity scale of 0 to 7. The strongest shaking was felt in the historic city of Nikko, about 100 miles north of Tokyo.

No immediate damages were reported at any of Japan's nuclear plants.

The agency said the earthquake posed no tsunami risk.

A number of aftershocks shook the region following the quake.

Copyrigth 2013 ABC News Radio


Earthquake Strikes Afghanistan

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL) -- A 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck Afghanistan on Saturday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It hit a hundred miles outside of Kabul, but was felt as far away as Pakistan.

ABC correspondent Muhammad Lila said small villages in the Hindu Kush Mountains region were affected by the earthquake with most of the towns having a population between four or five hundred each.

Lila added that most of the homes were made of mud-brick, and damaged homes may be difficult to reconstruct with the coming of winter with snow predicted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Tsunami Warning Lifted After 7.3 Earthquake Strikes Near Japan

Jason Reed/Thinkstock(TOKYO) -- A tsunami warning has been lifted for the northeastern region of Japan following a 7.3-magnitude earthquake that struck off the coast of Miyagi prefecture on Friday.

The quake rattled the coast of Japan just after 5 p.m. local time.  Tsunami waves were recorded in at least five different locations -- the largest being in Ishinomaki at 3 feet -- according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says there was never a risk of widespread tsunami warnings.

All flights were grounded at Sendai Airport, and travelers were evacuated to the higher grounds in the terminal, according to an official.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company says no damage has been reported at monitoring posts and water treatment facilities at all reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, which was crippled by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that slammed into northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.  That quake killed or left missing some 19,000 people, devastating much of the coast.

All the workers at the plant were moved to higher ground on the site and told to stay inside following Friday's tsunami warning, which was lifted about two hours after the quake struck.

Japan's NHK news reported that 10 people were transported to the hospital, including a 75-year-old woman in Ishinomaki who fell while trying to evacuate to higher ground.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


6.1-Magnitude Earthquake Hits North-Central Region of Chile

Jason Reed/Thinkstock(SANTIAGO) -- The North Central area of Chile was struck by a 6.1 magnitude earthquake Wednesday, according to local authorities.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter of the earthquake was located 55 miles north of Coquimbo, and 298 miles north of Santiago, the nation's capital.

The Interior Ministry Office says that so far, there have been no reports of death, injury, or damages to buildings; however, several phone lines in the area were reported to have been down, preventing further communication regarding status updates.

Chile is no stranger to large earthquakes. The most recent one happened in 2005, in the area of Tarapaca, and was a magnitude of 7.8.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Uproar in Italy over Scientists Convicted for Not Predicting Earthquake

Jason Reed/Thinkstock(ROME) -- Italy is a tough place for scientists, especially those whose specialty is to predict earthquakes.

On Monday, a court convicted seven scientists and experts on manslaughter charges because they didn't foresee the 6.3-temblor that left over 300 people dead in the central town of L'Aquila in 2009.

All seven were sentenced to six years in prison, but will remain free pending an inevitable appeal of the conviction.

During the trial, the seismologists argued that the real culprit was the inferior construction of buildings in the town, which contributed to most of the deaths in L'Aquila.

The outcome of the trial has also led members of Italy's Major Risks Committee to resign in protest, charging that predicting earthquakes is virtually impossible and that early warning systems literally give people only up to 60 seconds to vacate buildings.

There are also fears that the convictions will frighten those with expertise in other areas not to share their advice with the Italian government, lest they be prosecuted if they're wrong.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Scientists Convicted of Manslaughter for Failing to Predict Italian Quake

Zoonar/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Giustino Parisse knelt by his children's beds, trying to relax them. They had been jolted awake by a small earthquake near the picturesque Italian town of L'Aquila. He told them that scientists and local officials had appeared on TV, saying there was nothing to worry about. So, on their advice, he soothed his children to sleep.

Later that night, a much more powerful earthquake hit his town. His house collapsed. Both of his children died.

"They gave the impression to the outside world that there was nothing to be afraid of," Parisse, a journalist, told the BBC, sitting on the rubble where his kitchen used to be. "That message had no basis to it."

Parisse and a group of residents sued the scientists and a local government official for failing to warn him. His children would still be alive, he argued, had the scientists done their job properly.

Science cannot predict earthquakes. But Monday, in a decision that stunned many, Parisse and fellow residents won their case. A court in L'Aquila found the scientists guilty of manslaughter, of providing "superficial and ineffective" assessments and of disclosing "inaccurate, incomplete and contradictory" information about earthquake danger.

The verdict's shockwaves travelled quickly.

"I'm dejected, despairing. I still don't understand what I'm accused of," Enzo Boschi, former president of the National Geophysics and Vulcanology Institute, told reporters Monday. Boschi faces six years in jail if his appeal is rejected.

Tom Jordan, a seismologist with the University of Southern California who chaired an international commission on earthquake forecasting, investigated the quake and wrote about what they learned for the Italian government.

He called the verdict the "seismological trial of the century" and said it's being talked about by seismologists everywhere.

Jordan also did not think such a verdict could be reached in the U.S.

"Our legal system is quite different than theirs and I don't think this would have played out that way in the U.S. But I think it does have a chilling effect," he said. "[As a result of this] there are a lot of discussions between scientists regarding how they communicate what they know to an audience."

Before the verdict, 5,000 scientists from around the world signed a letter supporting those on trial, arguing it was impossible to predict an earthquake and accusing the court of putting science on trial.

"It is manifestly unfair for scientists to be criminally charged for failing to act on information that the international scientific community would consider inadequate as a basis for issuing a warning," said the letter, signed by Alan Leshner, the CEO and executive publisher of the journal Science. "Subjecting scientists to criminal charges for adhering to accepted scientific practices may have a chilling effect on researchers, thereby impeding the free exchange of ideas."

But the plaintiffs focused on a particular moment that they say influenced their decision not to evacuate their homes, as they normally would. On March 31, 2009, Italy's equivalent of FEMA -- the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks -- responded to residents' concerns following a series of small earthquakes. The commission concluded in a memo that a major quake was "unlikely," according to the Italian news agency Ansa, though it stressed it was not impossible.

Franco Barbieri ended the meeting by saying there was "no reason to say that a sequence of shocks of low magnitude can be considered a precursor of a strong event."

On television, Bernardo de Bernadinis, then the deputy director of the civil protection department, tried to reassure the population. "The scientific community keeps saying the situation is favorable because of the continuous discharge of energy," said de Bernadinis.

The earthquake that killed Parisse's children and 300 other people – including more than 10 percent of L'Aquila hamlet – hit six days later. Much of L'Aquila is still destroyed.

The six scientists and one government official who were convicted will now appeal.

This is "a profound mistake," argued physicist Luciano Maiani, who currently chairs the High Risks Committee. Those convicted "are professionals who have spoken in good faith and were not driven by personal interests."

But residents who lost family members in the earthquake hailed the verdict.

"The State's main duty is to provide security," argued Aldo Scimia, whose mother was killed. "And they failed."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Colombia Hit by 7.1 Magnitude Earthquake

Zoonar/Thinkstock(BOGOTA, Colombia) -- A 7.1 magnitude earrthquake struck the Colombian town of La Vega, about 50 miles north of Bogota shortly before noon on Sunday.

The quake, which was 93.5 miles deep, hit the town at 11:31 a.m. local time.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries in the city.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Miracle Pine Tree’ Removed from Tsunami-Ravaged City in Japan

Sankei via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The tsunami-ravaged city of Rikuzentakata, Japan, has cut down the lone pine tree that survived the disaster 18 months ago and came to symbolize hope.  But there are plans to keep the preserved tree on display.

Crews began the delicate process of cutting the 270-year-old tree into nine different sections Wednesday morning, removing large branches by crane as residents looked on.

Some 70,000 pine trees dotted Rikuzentakata’s waterfront before the tsunami hit in March last year, but only one survived the destructive waves.  Residents called the 89-foot tree a “miracle,” but the saltwater that seeped into the roots proved to be too much.

Crews plan to hollow out the tree trunk now, and insert a carbon spine inside after treating the wood.  They will replace the original branches with plastic replicas, before returning the pine to its original place next February, just shy of the second anniversary of the disaster.

“This tree has had such a big role,” Mayor Futoshi Toba told reporters.  “Reconstruction is just beginning, and the process is a long one.  This is just a temporary move.”

The entire process is estimated to cost 150 million yen ($27 million) -- a hefty price tag considering the larger reconstruction projects the city is already tasked with.  A Facebook page was launched in July to raise money for the preservation project, and city officials said they have collected more than $330,000 so far.

Nearly 20,000 people died when the tsunami hit the Tohoku region in northeast Japan 18 months ago.  Hundreds of thousands of people remain displaced by the disaster.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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