2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami

Following an 8.9 magnitude quake in Japan in March 2011, tsunami threatened much of the Pacific


A magnitude 8.9 earthquake in Japan caused a 13-foot tsunami that damaged buildings and washed away homes along the northeastern coast, Friday afternoon on March 11 2011. Aftershocks continued to rock the region as images on Japanese television showed cars and boats being swept away by tsunami waters.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for Japan, Russia, Marcus Islands, Northern Marianas, Guam, Wake Islands, Taiwan, Yap, Philippines, Marshall Islands, Belau, Midway Islands, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Johnston Islands, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Howland-Baker, Hawaii, Tuvalu, Palmyra Islands, Vanuatu, Tokelau, Jarvis Islands, Wallis-Futuna, Samoa, American Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue, Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia, Tonga, Mexico, Kermadec Islands, Fr. Polynesia, New Zealand, Pitcairn, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Antarctica, Panama, Honduras, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru.

The quake, the world’s fifth-largest since 1900, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, struck at 2.46 p.m. local time.

In addition to loss of life and destruction of infrastructure, the resulting tsunami caused a number of nuclear accidents, primarily the ongoing level 7 meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant complex, and the associated evacuation zones affecting hundreds of thousands of residents.

The Japanese National Police Agency has confirmed 15,365 deaths, 5,363 injured, and 8,206 people missing across eighteen prefectures, as well as over 125,000 buildings damaged or destroyed.

Japanese Diet: Fukushima was ‘man-made disaster’ →

Hiroko Tabuchi, reporting for the New York Times:

The report, released by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, challenged some of the main story lines that the government and the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant have put forward. Most notably, the report said the plant’s crucial cooling systems might have been damaged in the earthquake on March 11, 2011, not only in the ensuing tsunami. That possibility raises doubts about the safety of all the quake-prone country’s nuclear plants just as they begin to restart after a pause ordered in the wake of the Fukushima crisis.
The full report is available here (PDF). More at New York Times »

Fukushima radiation found in bluefin tuna →

Alicia Chang, Associated-Press science writer:

Five months after the Fukushima disaster, [Nicholas] Fisher of Stony Brook University in New York and a team decided to test Pacific bluefin that were caught off the coast of San Diego. To their surprise, tissue samples from all 15 tuna captured contained levels of two radioactive substances — ceisum-134 and cesium-137 — that were higher than in previous catches.
Prof. Fisher: "That's a big ocean. To swim across it and still retain these radionuclides is pretty amazing." More at Associated Press »