Entries in Tsunami (87)


Japan Marks Second Anniversary of Deadly Earthquake and Tsunami

Sankei via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Services were held in Japan on Monday to mark the second anniversary of a devastating earthquake and tsunami that took nearly 19,000 lives and triggered the worst nuclear power plant accident since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

The entire Japanese nation paused for a moment of silence at 2:46 p.m. to mark the exact moment when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Northern Japan on March 11, 2011.  Memorial ceremonies took place in several locations around the country, including areas along the coast that were overwhelmed by the killer tsunami that followed the quake.  Tens of thousands of people remain displaced because their communities were washed away by the tsunami.


The tsunami also battered the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggering meltdowns in three reactors and the release of deadly radiation into the air.  Some 160,000 people were forced to evacuate the region surrounding the power plant.  They have not been allowed to return to their homes.

Eight hundred evacuees displaced by the nuclear disaster filed a class-action lawsuit against the plant operator and the Japanese government on Monday.  The victims are demanding that the land, their homes and the natural environment be restored to pre-disaster conditions.  They’re also seeking medical compensation related to radiation exposure and the stress of being displaced.

The plaintiffs, which include housewives, fishermen and farmers, are demanding a monthly payment of 50,000 yen, approximately $540, in addition to the monthly $1,000 compensation they already receive.

Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors were shut down for inspection after the deadly quake, and only two have been put back into service.  On Sunday, thousands of people marched in the streets of Tokyo, calling for an end to the use of nuclear power in Japan.

Copyright 2013 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


Google Creates Virtual Record of Tsunami Wreckage in Japan

Google(TOKYO) -- In the early hours after the tsunami hit northeast Japan last year, Google launched a Person Finder site that helped reconnect families and loved ones in the most devastated regions.

Months later, the web giant dispatched its street view cars -- 15 cameras mounted on each -- to document the disaster zone in a 360-degree view.

Now, nearly two years later, Google is harnessing its technology once again to launch a unique digital archive project that gives users a virtual tour of buildings damaged by the waves.

The “Memories for the Future” site utilizes technology behind Google Business Photos, typically used by restaurants and retail stores to give customers an interactive tour.  This time, it is being used to document more than 30 buildings in the coastal cities of Rikuzentakata, Kamaishi, Ofunato and Namie.  The panoramic images allow users to walk through a gutted city office, where smashed cars still remain, surrounded by scraps of metal and wood.

“We have been trying to find ways using the power of technology to help communities recover and help them tell stories,” said Kei Kawai, product manager at Google.  “Our hope is that we can provide tools to let other people know what it’s like to be in the region now.”

The idea for the project came last month as city leaders debated the fate of their most devastated buildings.  Many residents had called for preservation, arguing the structures should prove as a constant reminder of the tragedy, while others pushed to tear them down, advocating a new start.

Kawai said most buildings documented so far were set to be demolished in a few months, so Google had to act quickly.  With the help of government officials, employees were given access to take photos inside the structures, including those in the restricted nuclear zone.

They captured more than three dozen buildings in a few weeks.

Kawai hopes to add five additional cities to the project by the end of the year and says the site could serve as an example of how Google responds to future disasters.

“We are still creating a template on how to assist in longer term recovery,” he said.  “How to assist in keeping the record, and archiving the memories of the region.”

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


7.6 Earthquake Hits Costa Rica; Tsunami Warning in Effect

iStockphoto/ThinkstockUPDATE: Tsunami warnings have been canceled.

(SAN JOSE, Costa Rica) -- A 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck northwestern Costa Rica on Wednesday, prompting a tsunami warning for parts of Central America.

The 25-mile deep quake hit the country just before 9 a.m. local time, 88 miles west from the capital of San Jose, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.  It's magnitude was originally reported at 7.9.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a tsunami warning for Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua.

No casualties or major damages have been reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Seafood Caught in Fukushima Back on Sale in Japan

Sankei via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- For the first time since last year's nuclear disaster in Japan, people in Fukushima Prefecture are once again getting a taste of seafood caught in their own backyard.

Fisherman in Fukushima began selling their catch at local grocery stores on Monday, 15 months after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck the country.  The catch was limited to octopus and marine snails, largely because of radiation concerns.  The government banned the sale of 36 other fish, saying they tested for radiation that exceeded acceptable levels.

According to Japan's national broadcaster NHK, the seafood is going for about 70 percent of what it went for in stores before the disasters hit.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japan Utility Admits It Was Unprepared for Nuclear Disaster

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Fifteen months after Japan’s worst nuclear disaster, the company at the center of it all now says it wasn’t prepared.

In its final report, TEPCO Vice President Masao Yamazaki applauded his employees’ efforts, saying they did their best under such harsh circumstances. The utility company concluded it took appropriate actions in the midst of Japan’s worst natural disaster -- a powerful earthquake and tsunami -- that triggered three meltdowns at the Fukushima plant.

But TEPCO also acknowledged they were too slow to act, failing to quickly disclose important radiation information to the public. The report said power outages limited the amount of data available and that TEPCO did not deliberately withhold data to downplay the situation.

The lengthy investigation offered few answers about the cause of the meltdowns, the radiation fallout, and where the toxic substance was released -- few concrete answers that could help avoid a similar disaster.

Instead, it criticized the government, saying that officials caused unnecessary confusion.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Beached Dock a Remnant of Japan Tsunami?

Image Credit: KATU/ABC News(SALEM, Ore.) -- Oregonians awoke to a huge surprise Tuesday when a 7-foot-tall dock washed ashore, leaving local and state officials wondering whether it’s just the beginning of the bulk of tsunami debris set to arrive this year on the West Coast via currents from Japan.

Chris Havel, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation, said it is too early to tell exactly where the dock originated, but crews identified a metal placard with Japanese writing that was attached to the dock. The March 2011 earthquake-tsunami left at least 15,000 people dead and swept away cars, boats, buildings, homes and maybe at least one errant dock.

“We sent it [the placard] to the Japanese Consulate in Portland and they are working on it,” he said. “We have not received the full translation and are waiting for the consulate to respond. Once they have, we can find out where and when it came from.”

A Washington-based, Japanese-speaking journalist who saw a photo of the placard said it reads, the “Misawa District Area Fishing Harbor Maintenance Construction” from Nishimura Industries Inc., which is located at the northern tip of the main island of Japan.  The city of Misawa, located in an area called the Aomori Prefecture, suffered some damage from the tsunami, particularly at the U.S. Air Force base, which had electricity shut down.

Havel said the dock arrived at Agate Beach in Newport, Ore., around 3 a.m. local time Tuesday, after the high tide pushed it far into the beach. The 66-foot-long, 19-foot-wide structure is made of concrete and metal and is too large and too heavy to be moved without the use of machinery.

“We haven’t had anything this large and heavy wash up on the beach before,” Havel said.

If the next high tide fails to pull the dock back out into the Pacific Ocean, the state might have to demolish it, he said.

“We would prefer not to demolish it, because it would interrupt the … public beach,” Havel said. “We are talking to salvage experts to give us a thumbs up or down on whether to demolish it or not.”

If the dock has to be destroyed, Havel said officials would attach cables to the dock, as well as boats, and pull it across the surf line. He said demolishing the structure would be a challenge without disturbing beach-goers.

“We will know in the next couple of days which method will be workable,” Havel said.

The dock contains no hazardous materials but beach-goers are prohibited from climbing on it, Havel said. Viewing and taking photos are permitted.

Photos and status updates are available on the Oregon Parks and Recreation website.

“We had some people from Pennsylvania visit the beach when I first visited the dock, and they said, ‘Is this common,’” Havel said. “I told them, ‘No, but you arrived at a special time.’”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japan Tsunami Debris: Canadian Museum Launches Recovery Project

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Pieces of debris from last year’s Japanese tsunami, carried by the currents, have begun to show up on the West Coast of the United States and Canada, including most recently, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

The Maritime Museum of British Columbia has just launched what it calls the “Tsunami Debris Project”, which aims to collect photos of the flotsam that washes ashore and potentially reunite lost items with their owners.

“The idea is to not only document, but to showcase them in an exhibit-type of way, and to tell the social and human side of the story with the idea that there might be a few items that come over that have some personal or sentimental value for these people that have lost everything,” project coordinator Linda Funk told “And it would be the right thing to do to link some of these belongings to their owners.”

The museum says it hopes the website will be a central place for flotsam finders to post photos of the items and for people in Japan to look for their valued belongings.

Three items that have so far washed up and made news are a soccer ball, a wrecked ship and a motorcycle.

In April, the soccer ball washed up on the shore of a remote island in Alaska, making it one of the first pieces of debris to reach the U.S. The radar technician who found the ball with Japanese writing on it was able to track down the elementary school it came from and, eventually, its owner, a 16-year-old who had lost his home in the tsunami.

The Japanese “ghost ship,” the Ryou-Un Maru, floated across the Pacific Ocean after it was ripped from its moorings by the tsunami last March. It was floating roughly 195 miles south of Sitka in the Gulf of Alaska before the U.S. Coast Guard shot at it and sank it on April 5 after it was decided that it was not worth salvaging.

And just a few weeks ago, a man from Masset, Canada was riding his ATV on a remote beach on the island of Haida Gwaii when he came across a large, white container that looked like the back of a truck on the beach, according to the CBC.

Inside was a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with Japanese license plates. The container also had camping equipment, golf clubs and tools in it, the CBC reported.

These are just the first of what experts predict will be massive amounts of debris set to reach the North American coast in 2013.

“Most of the things will be fishing floats or pieces of lumber, non-interesting debris, but there’s bound to be a couple of items that are like the soccer ball,” Funk said. “It’s a bit like a treasure hunt. You never know what you’re going to find.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


8.6-Magnitude Quake Strikes Off Indonesia, Prompting Tsunami Watch

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An 8.6-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia Wednesday, triggering a tsunami watch across the Indian Ocean.  The warning has since been canceled.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake was 20.5 miles deep and hit 269 miles southwest of Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province in Sumatra.  The tremor was originally recorded as an 8.9-magnitude quake, but was downgraded to an 8.7 and then an 8.6 by the USGS.

Workers at the Hermes Palace Hotel in Banda Aceh described a scene of panic near the coast as people fled to higher ground.  Employee Cut Arlista said the shaking was so strong, water from the hotel pool spilled out, though the 70 guests at the hotel were not evacuated.

"People were crying, and everybody was running inland as fast as they can," Arlista told ABC News.

Wednesday's quake hit the same region that was devastated by a 9.1-magnitude earthquake in December 2004.  That tremor triggered a catastrophic tsunami in the Indian Ocean that killed 230,000 people.

"I think a lot of people learned from the past," Arlista said.  "Everybody knew to run as soon as the earthquake hit."

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio