Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sendai Quake - Day 2

Day 1 posts can be found here. Also, this blog got on a news article on the Waukesha Patch back at home!

11:40 pm - The M5 earthquake in Niigata also had an M3 earthquake that occurred at the same time off the coast of Ibaragi. Seems to be coincidence, but whew.

11:35 pm - Another earthquake warning via TV and phone, 30 seconds later it hit, but not very strong. It was centered in Niigata I hear. The earthquake from an hour ago off the coast of Fukushima was M6 they're saying now.

11:30 pm - Alright, now they're talking about how a few hundred people in the area around the Fukushima nuclear power plants are at risk of radiation poisoning. Yikes. Also I've heard a report that over 2500 buildings have been reported to be completely leveled. Not damaged, but wiped away clean.

11:00 pm - By the way, I've mentioned it before but there have been many reports of aftershocks and other damage since, so I'll mention it again. Everything around the area I live in is safe and sound. Barring any large quake hitting the Tokyo area directly, I should pull out of this just fine. I'm definitely getting tired of all the shaking though, haha.

10:30 pm - For most of the evening they were talking about the nuclear power plant up in Fukushima that, well... exploded. Not in the nuclear explosion type, but rather the pressure was building up because they were unable to cool the reactor. Also, because of the type of reactor, there's not really a major risk of something like Chernobyl, but they're taking plenty of preparation for the worst case scenario, and are evacuating people within a 20km radius.

Here's a video of the outer shell of the reactor complex basically disappearing at about 45 sec in.

Now after a day of assessing the aftermath, a lot of reports are rolling in about the state of things in Japan. Entire cities on the coast are completely devastated, some wiped clean off the face of the earth. More videos from when the tsunami rolled in are coming out too. Hundreds of thousands of people between the prefectures north of Tokyo and all the way through Hokkaido are without power and gas. They're saying it could take 2 weeks to restore some utilities. The biggest problem though is food. Roads and bridges are devastated, so its very difficult to get supplies through. They're saying people are living off a couple onigiri and some tea a day at the moment. Help is on the way from all over the world, including the US military on its way I hear.

A little on the good news though, the tsunami warnings have been downgraded again, and we don't have any more large tsunami warnings, just normal tsunami warnings around the coast close to the epicenter, and simple watches elsewhere. We did however just get another aftershock that hit to 5 or 6 on land. Actually we found out about it from Kana's cell phone alarm going off, then the news warning of an incoming earthquake, and finally 20-30 seconds later the earthquake came. Amazing to see the earthquake preparedness in action. The quake wasn't bad, but definitely one of the stronger aftershocks we've had in the last several hours.

Anyways, getting tired both physically and mentally. I'll probably pass out on the floor here, heh.

8:00 pm - At Kana's apartment. There have been a few aftershocks yet, but few and far between. Ruling out another separate earthquake in this area, I think things are finally calming down. The trains and streets were normal for the most part, although the grocery stores were still gutted off food. Kana's gas at her apartment was actually stopped automatically from the main earthquake, and we had to go restart it at the meter outside her door. That's a good feeling to know your gas cuts off automatically if there's a strong enough earthquake.

Well we're getting tired of watching the news about all the destruction and such that's going on, so we're watching something else for now, switching back to the news to keep updated every once in awhile.

4:30 pm - On the train blogging from my phone. The trains have no timetables, but are running every 15 min. It's actually really nice to get outside. Watching all that destruction on the news can be a major downer. It's nice to see semblance of normal society and people around the city, and buildings standing. It's actually even more amazing what's going on in eastern japan, cause it's a gorgeous day out over here. They're saying the trains are slowing their speed for safety, but I wouldn't have noticed if they didn't mention it. In fact looking around town you wouldn't guess that one of if not the worst earthquake just hit japan yesterday.

4:00 pm - Just got another aftershock, this one worse than we've had in awhile, at least since aftershocks shortly after the main quake. Seems it was centered in chiba, which is much closer to where I live. Nothing major though.

3:45 pm - My gf is safe and sound at home, and the trains seem to have been running for most of the day now. I'm gonna venture out and see if I can't make it to her apartment. Hopefully I don't get stuck, but if I do I have my phone with me so you'll hear about it!

3:00 pm - Found the video from Kamaishi. Looks like someone took a video of it. I was watching this exact feed.

Also, they've confirmed over 450 or so deaths, and upped the missing to a thousand, making about 1400 total dead or missing. Also, I just felt another small aftershock.

2:00 pm - They just downgraded the tsunami warnings around the country. Miyagi and the surrounding prefectures are still at large tsunami warnings, but the rest of Japan has been downgraded to a regular tsunami warnings or watches. I just saw an amazing video of the moment the tsunami came to Kamaishi, Iwate on the news, but haven't been able to find a video yet. Here are some other amazing ones from YouTube though.

The tank that exploded, around 1:40 in. It took 10 seconds for the explosion to reach the guy who recorded this.

Here's another of the moment the tsunami arrived

An areal view of the tsunami advancing on land.

When I find the video from Kamaishi (釜石市), I'll post it.

1:15 pm - They're saying that M6.7 earthquake in the Nagoya/Niigata area was on a different tectonic plate, and therefore an entirely different earthquake from the massive one we had yesterday. It's certainly possible the one from yesterday could have been a catalyst, but it basically wasn't an aftershock, but a different earthquake all together.

12:10 pm - Yaaay! Kana is finally home! After getting off the train at Shinagawa she headed for Gotanda and Meguro to see if she could catch a train from there to get closer to home. Well apparently she was able to catch a taxi and get all the way home!! Yes! Plus, her room was just fine!!!The TV didn't fall or anything. Plus the stores in that area seem to actually have food, where as the stores in Tokyo were supposedly gutted. Kana! So glad to hear you finally got home! It's been almost 20 hours since the earthquake, but you're home now! 本当にお疲れ様!! Now get some rest. :D

Hmm... just felt another aftershock while writing this. I fell asleep for another half hour to an hour earlier; no surprise from only getting a few hours of sleep last night. I think its about time I shower and make some lunch though.

10:50 am - Kana called and told me it took half an hour to travel two stations, and then the train stopped again. Man that's gotta be so frustrating not being able to get home. Maybe she can take a different line to get closer to home and walk/taxi from there. By the way, just had another weak aftershock. They're definitely getting fewer and far between, so hopefully this is an indication the earthquake is ending.

10:15 am - I just saw them interview someone who lived on the prefectural border between Miyagi and Fukushima. She said the earthquake was so strong she could barely keep standing, much less keep things from falling over, so she escaped outside. After the earthquake she began cleaning up, but her neighbor warned her of the coming tsunami. The eventually fled by car to higher ground, where she witnessed her own house get washed away by the tsunami. There are many others with similar experiences who have lost so much. I'm thankful for their safety, but can't even imagine the loss they've just experienced. Wow.

9:50 am - They've been talking about it on the news, and I found an English article about it too. There are a couple nuclear power plants in Fukushima, which is on the east coast of Japan south of Miyagi where the earthquake hit. These power plants are right on the coast and got hit hard. They've been talking about them since yesterday. It sounds like they're now telling people within a 10km radius of the power plants to evacuate, as they may need to release some radioactive steam to release growing pressure and heat.

9:25 am - Actually, Kana just called and said the trains started up again so she's gonna train home instead. Sounds like the roads are packed, so it would be faster to go home by train anyways. That said, the trains are packed too, so it'll be a tight ride home for sure. Hopefully it won't take long (usually only 30 min), and more importantly hopefully the trains don't stop again.

9:10 am - Kana supposedly got a taxi! Yeaaa!

9:00 am - Kana called and tells me she's still stuck in Tokyo. The trains had started moving, but stopped again for safety. She's trying to find a taxi to get home if she can. Otherwise she might have to return to her company again to wait it out and get online. She'd definitely like to get home and see if her room is ok. I'd be worried sick.

Sounds like a M6.7 hit Niigata around 4 am, an hour after I went to bed last night so I didn't notice. According to the JMA though, it was only an M1 or 2 around here, so it wasn't that strong by the time it got out here. It's unbelievable how many aftershocks are constantly occurring since. Still looking for an accurate source, but I've seen graphics on TV of 6 or 7 aftershocks of around M5 to M6. In the Sendai area (original quake) and Niigata area a couple hundred miles north of where I live.

8:40 am - Here's a bit of good news. Japan is the most prepared country in the world when it comes to earthquakes and tsunamis, and it's definitely saving lives.

8:00 am - Good morning. I ended up falling asleep around 3 am or so last night. Glad to see my TV hasn't fallen on top of me over night, hah. My girlfriend called and said the trains are starting up again around now, but there's thousands upon thousands, probably millions of people also stuck in Tokyo that are anxious to get home. So she might wait a bit for it to calm down some. Her apartment is on the 7th (top) floor though, so we're a bit worried about what her room could be like. Depending on what happens, she might come out here or head to a relatives in the area, rather than sitting this out on the 7th floor. I would be a bit worried about using an elevator after something like this.

Anyways, I hear there was a large aftershock quake in my area over night, but I slept through the whole thing. For what it's worth, I slept through Hurricane Andrew 10 20 years ago too by the way. Everything in my apartment is still upright though, so it must not have been too bad. Still feeling aftershocks, but my body is still hyper-sensitive to motion, so at any given point its difficult to tell it its actually shaking or my body is just out of whack. So far the dead or missing counts is exceeding 1000, according to the news.

I'm hearing some pretty amazing stats about this quake...

"The US Geological Survey is reporting that the coast of Japan has shifted 8 feet (2.4m) because of the earthquake in Japan. The Earth's axis has reportedly been shifted 10 inches too."

I guess the trip home has gotten somewhat slower? But now my GPS Mapping on Google Maps might be slightly off kilter! I wonder if Google will adjust.

Finally, here's an amazing collection of pictures from

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Anonymous Heidi Wightman said...

We're so glad you are safe Kris. Thanks for your account of what you are experiencing. I have a friend (Miyuki) from MLHS who was a foreign exchange student from Japan. She lives in Sendai with her husband and two small girls - praying they are safe. I know communication must be awful in that region. I cannot imagine the earth moving, much less aftershock after aftershock. There are many people at Beautiful Savior that are praying you stay safe!

3/12/2011 12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kris, Hurricane Andrew was almost 20 years ago (1992). it's no wonder you slept through it, you were, what, 6? :o) I can't believe it was that long ago though either.

We're all very glad to hear you and Kana are safe. We're praying for your continued safety.

-Justin & Nikki

3/12/2011 10:41 PM  
Blogger Kurisu said...

Haha, yea you're right. Holy cow I can't believe its been 20 years since Hurricane Andrew, but indeed I was 6 and slept through the whole thing. :)

3/12/2011 11:34 PM  

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