Magnitude 7.4 Hits Japan Again

April 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

A magnitude 7.4 earthquake just hit Japan again-less than a month after the 9.0 that devastated and crippled more than 1/2 of Japan. Officials said the aftershock hit 25 miles (40 kilometers) under the water and off the coast of Miyagi prefecture. The USGS later downgraded it to 7.1.

Buildings in Tokyo, which was about 205 miles (330 kilometers) from the epicenter, shook violently for about a minute. USGS geophysicist Paul Caruso said the aftershock struck at about the same location and depth as last month’s quake. The USGS said the aftershock struck off the eastern coast 40 miles (65 kilometers) from Sendai and 70 miles (115 kilometers) from Fukushima.

Nuclear Plants: Japan’s nuclear safety agency said power plants along the northeastern coast were under control after backup generators kicked in at three – Rokkasho, Higashidori and Onagawa – that lost power.

The aftershock knocked out two of three power lines at the Onagawa nuclear power plant north of Sendai, which has been shut down since the tsunami. One remaining line was supplying power to the plant and radiation monitoring devices detected no abnormalities. The plant’s spent fuel pools briefly lost cooling capacity but an emergency diesel generator quickly kicked in.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said progress was being made to stabilise the Fukushima Daiichi plant, where workers have been injecting nitrogen into a reactor to prevent a potentially explosive build-up of hydrogen gas.

“The situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains very serious,” Denis Flory, head of the IAEA’s nuclear safety department, told reporters.

Within one hour, all supermarkets and convenience stores shelves were wiped clean with water, ice, instant noodles, bread, toilet paper/tissues, rice, batteries and emergency supplies and food. Numerous buildings had broken windows and tiles, with quite a few small electrical fires were reported.

In Ichinoseki, which is also inland, buildings shook violently, knocking items from shelves and toppling furniture, but there also appear to be no major damage there. Hotel workers lit candles so guests could find their way around. In Miyagi prefecture motorways were closed and bullet train services were partially suspended.

In Sendai, hotel guests and diners ran out onto the streets, some clutching torches as they began walking home in near-darkness.

Sirens from emergency vehicles filled the air, but more than three hours later there were no reports of major damage.

Police and the fire service officials said they had received numerous calls about fires and gas leaks. NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, said seven people had been injured, two of them seriously.

The earthquake sent the dollar sliding against the yen and wiped out early gains in European stock markets. European stocks ended down 0.2 percent and the S&P 500 finished down 0.15 percent, while the dollar extended losses against the yen. U.S.-dollar denominated Nikkei futures NKc1 were down 1.6 percent. Japan is the world’s third-largest economy and investors feared the new quake could harm the global recovery.

“It got people thinking that maybe this is not finished yet, and this is of a bigger scale than what we had expected,” said Jack DeGan, CIO @ Harbor Advisory Corp in New Hampshire.

By 1:30 a.m. (1630 GMT) seven people were reported injured, two seriously, a spokesman for the National Police Agency said.


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