I guess with thanking those that sent me messages via email, facebook and twitter: I'm fine, my family's ok. My friends are for the most part accounted for and doing ok, tho' honestly I have a few up north that I continue to worry about.
My family and I live in Japan's south, on the island of Kyushu - the southern-most of the main islands. This quake and ensuing tsunami occurred a bit north of Tokyo.
And for the most part, Tokyo's ok too. They've had... and will continue to have some hellish inconvenience, but compared to what's happening not too far north of them, they're ok.
But northern Japan is anything but 'ok'.
This quake, has been pretty devastating. It's said to be 8000 times more powerful than the one that hit Christchurch. No typo there: 8000. Just off the coast of Japan, about 300km north of Tokyo.
The ensuing tsunami has been the worst part. 1400 are confirmed dead, but the end toll will be well in excess of that, perhaps many times more.
Northern Japan's now fighting continued earthquake tremors - aftershocks that in their own right are sizable earthquakes, floods from the tsunami (water isn't receding), fires, and cold - it's snowing in most of these places. Add to that, due to the shut down of all the power plants up there, most are without power.
Now there's also the threat of nuclear danger, as 2 plants in particular are having problems with the coolant systems (Fukushima Daichi and Fukushima Daini). Daini in particular is having difficulty with the SCRAM procedure, and there's the threat of complete meltdown. This is a very real fear, and one that is far from being resolved... and could have dire consequences. The government has declared a state of national emergency.
The images on local TV are almost surreal.
I've seen rivers where hours ago there were none, full of cars bounced and thrown around like toys. Images of houses ripped to pieces in seconds by water and debris. Other houses with cars, shipping containers or boats smashed through them. Fires ripping through cities. People stranded in cars on bridges and highways, standing desolute on rooftops - waving to news helicopters, pleading for rescue. I've watched hundreds of people crammed into small elementary schools now that their homes have gone. Scared, terrified of what's happened and what could still be. The number now is that almost quarter of a million people have lost their homes.
If you know someone in Japan's north, and you wish to check up on them, use Google's person finder, or the similar service from the Red Cross.
Still... some luck involved. The time of day, the location, the time of year - this could have been worse. Far worse.
Additionally, the reality of this is that without the excellent infrastructure of the building codes and government response, this could have been worse. Japan's SDF has been mobilised, and relief efforts are underway.
The international commmunity has responded quickly too. Relief teams and aid are coming in from all over the world.
On a more personal level, if you wish to help, then making a donation to the Red Cross would be fantastic, and go a long way to helping the nation of Japan.
Lastly, I want to share some words from the BBC, where ordinary people have written in...
"We are in an historical, deep grief. Thousands are searching for their families with no luck, and can only pray or cry now. We will never lose hope. We shall get back into peaceful life with unity, wisdom and love. Please be with us."
This is absolutely unbelievable. At this point I pray for you, yours and the people affected just as much as I pray for my prayers that are unanswered. I cannot, and do not, want to imagine what you are going through. Continue to be strong and know that better days are ahead...
News via twitter from Noriyuki Shikata, Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Public Relations, Director of Global Communications at Prime Minister's Office of Japan.
- The plant operator of Fukushima I plant, TEPCO, has confirmed that the integrity of the primary containment vessel of Unit 1 remains intact.
- Unit 3 may encounter similar blast as Unit 1 due to accumulation of hydrogen in upper space of building. No damage to container expected.
Thanks for taking the time to email last night and also write this post to keep us here in the states in tune with what's going on over there. We're glad you're OK. Our thoughts are with you, your family and countrymen, women and children. We hope you hang in there and that your country can return to some sense or normality here sooner rather than later. I know there's a lot of work ahead, but hopefully the country and world helps your community come together to respond to this tragedy. I can't stress how important it is for everyone to donate to the Red Cross in this time of need. ... Know that we are with you back here in Cali.
I awake to pretty bad news for Japan.
- 1700 people confirmed dead.
- The number of people with radiation poisoning (which was 3 when I went to bed), is now 160.
- The emergency cooling system is no longer functioning at the Fukushima Daichi No. 3 reactor.
- They have evacuated 300,000 people around that area.
- Ian Hore-Lacy of the World Nuclear Association tells the BBC he believes the situation at the nuclear power plant - where sea water is being used to cool the reactor core - is under control: "The point is that the heat, decay heat from the fuel drops off very rapidly. So after an hour, an hour following the shut down, it's down to about 2 or 3% I think. And after 24 hours it's down to half a per cent. So the amount of heat you've got to cope with right now is a small fraction of what there was initially."
Lots of conflicting reports/opinions on the impending/averted nuclear disaster. Honestly? It's pretty scary.
This is heartbreaking to say the least. My prayers are with you and Japan.
Thank God for the ability to share in real time from real people. It makes up for the cable coverage which spent too much time worrying about how many Americans were hurt in Japan. Incredible attitude. BBC is doing a great job of showing what danger Japan is in and the help that is needed.
Thanks Don. Be Safe.
Current news is that the nuclear core is fine at Fukushima Daichi (Fukushima #1 nuclear power plant), it did not explode.