U.S. Geological Survey said the reading was 8.9 but the Japanese officials raised their estimate Sunday of the quake’s magnitude to 9.0. Either way, it’s the strongest and the worst that hit Japan in 140 years. Just when you thought the uprising in the Middle East particularly Libya would have kept you occupied, the Japan’s earthquake stole the attention away. Almost instantly the memory of great earthquake occurred off the coast of Sumatra, North West Indonesia, on the 26th of December 2004 come flashing.
While some 226,000 people perished in the 2004 Sumatra earthquake-tsunami, Japan’s latest Sendai earthquake has left more than 10,000 people dead in one area alone, at least for now. The US Geological Survey has listed Japan’s latest disaster as seventh most powerful quake since the Richter records began in 1900. The 2004 Sumatra was ranked three with 9.1 Richter. Fortunately the death toll in Japan would be much lower than in Indonesia simply because the latest earthquake occurred at a depth of 24.4 km only.
At Sumatra the movement of the tectonic plates occurred at a depth of 160 km, not to mention the plates moved along a fault line of 1,600 km. Japan was lucky to experience tsunami’s wave height of only 10 meter as compared to Sumatra’s of 30 meter. The latest tsunami also brings back the story of movie 2010 about how natural disasters, as predicted by the Mayans, would bring the world to an end. For a moment, super earthquakes such as the Indonesia’s Sumatra and Japan’s Sendai are the nearest signs on how humankind would perish from this world.
But it was not the earthquakes but rather the after effect that would increase the death toll. People would be cut from access to water, food, power, aid, sinking temperature and in Japan’s case – nuclear meltdown due to losses in cooling functions. After coolant systems at Fukushima Daiichi was down, Japan has declared emergency at a second nuclear plant in Onagawa where excessive radiation levels have been recorded. It’s true that while Japan people may know what to do when an earthquake strikes, they are literally clueless in a situation of a radiation leak.
The fact that the Japanese were flooding reactors with seawater in order to prevent a nuclear meltdown reflects the seriousness of the damage. You don’t flood your nuclear reactors with seawater unless you’ve no other choice because by doing so means the end of use of the reactor as the seawater would corrode the reactor. And you won’t do this unless there’s a partial or full meltdown. Japanese builds one of the best nuclear plants to withstand earthquake.
Already the economic losses from the earthquake could easily exceeding US$100 billion using 1995 Kobe earthquake as a yardstick. Whether this earthquake was the karma due to the brutality of Japanese during their WWII invasion that caused hundreds of thousands of innocent lives or simply because of Nostradamus prediction, the fact remains that it would take months or even years before the areas hit by the earthquake could recover to where it was. It may not be the same again.
And it’s funny to read some politicians in Malaysia is still toying with the idea of building nuclear plants in the country despite excessive powers. Sure, Malaysia may not experience earthquake but shoddy maintenance and third-world mentality are equally disastrous to tsunami.
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