Japan: Industry Grinds To A Halt After Earthquake And Tsunami

Insurance costs for damage caused across Japan likely to be in region of £9bn adding further blow to indebted economy

A firefighter looks at burned-out vehicles at Hitachi port, north-eastern Japan, the day after the giant quake and tsunami struck. Photograph: AP

Industry in the world’s third-largest economy all but ground to a halt following the earthquake, as manufacturers ranging from Toyota to Nissan, Sony, Fuji and brewers Kirin and Sapporo shut down their operations in Japan to assess damage and allow staff to check on their families.

The quake is a shattering blow to Japan’s already heavily indebted economy, which recently endured a downgrade in its credit rating. Finance minister Yoshihiko Noda raised the prospect of an emergency budget to cope with reconstruction costs, but suggested that this would be hard to compile before the end of March.

Read moreJapan: Industry Grinds To A Halt After Earthquake And Tsunami

Japan Now Assumes ‘Possibility Of A Meltdown’ – Official Says 2nd Blast Possible – French Urged To Leave Tokyo – Fukushima Fallout: Next Few Days Critical – 140000 Evacuated From Radioactive Danger Zone – Nuclear Crisis Worsens As Country Braces For 2nd Huge Earthquake

Officials in protective gear at the the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Japan now assumes ‘possibility of a meltdown’ at troubled reactors (Christian Science Monitor)

At a Sunday morning press briefing, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said experts were “assuming the possibility of a meltdown” at the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima I plant, about 150 miles north of Tokyo, as well as at its No. 1 reactor.

Workers scramble to cool reactors; official says 2nd blast possible (CNN):

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said an explosion could take place in the building housing the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeastern Japan.

“There is a possibility that the third reactor may have hydrogen gas that is accumulating in the reactor (that) may potentially cause an explosion,” he said.

Amid nuke crisis, French urged to leave Tokyo (AP):

The French Embassy urged its citizens Sunday to leave the area around Tokyo — 170 miles (270 kilometers) from Fukushima Dai-ichi — in case the crisis deepened and a “radioactive plume” headed for the area around the capital. The statement acknowledged that the possibility was looking unlikely.

140000 evacuated from Japan’s radioactive danger zone (The Australian)

Fukushima Fallout: Next Few Days Critical (Sky News):

They say advanced Japanese engineering at the 40-year-old facility will avoid a Chernobyl-style disaster, but any radiation leak could have disastrous long-term consequences.

During Friday’s megaquake most of Japan’s nuclear power reactors did shut down as planned, but at Fukushima the system failed – leaving its reactors at risk.

A blast at the plant’s number one reactor destroyed part of the building but did not prompt a major radiation leak.

Experts have warned there could be a second explosion at the plant’s number three reactor.

Japan nuclear crisis worsens as country braces for second huge earthquake (Guardian):

The threat of further seismic shifts and tsunami is far from over. As rescue teams from more than 70 countries and tens of thousands of Japanese troops descended on the disaster zone, meteorological agency officials warned there was a 70% chance of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake striking the region in the next three days. “There will be many aftershocks in multiple locations. We have to brace ourselves for aftershocks of magnitude 5 or even magnitude 6,” an agency official said.

Here is an expert that has NO inside knowledge, but look what headline Reuters has created:

Partial nuclear meltdown “no disaster,”: expert (Reuters):

“I think nobody can say at this time whether there is a small melting of any fuel elements or something like that. You have to inspect it afterwards,” he told Reuters by phone.

But a partial meltdown “is not a disaster” and a complete meltdown is not likely, he said, suggesting he believed Japanese authorities were succeeding in cooling down the reactors even though the systems for doing this failed after the quake hit.

“I only see they are trying to cool the reactor, that is the main task, and they are trying to get cooling water from the sea,” Engel said, stressing he did not have first-hand information about events at the Fukushima facility.

“I think (He does not know!) they will be able to manage it … When the (reactor) containment is intact only a small amount of radioactivity can go out, like in Three Mile Island,” he said referring to the 1979 nuclear accident in the United States.

Japan: Earthquake Moved Coast 8 Feet, Shifted Earth’s Axis

(CNN) — The powerful earthquake that unleashed a devastating tsunami Friday appears to have moved the main island of Japan by 8 feet (2.4 meters) and shifted the Earth on its axis.

“At this point, we know that one GPS station moved (8 feet), and we have seen a map from GSI (Geospatial Information Authority) in Japan showing the pattern of shift over a large area is consistent with about that much shift of the land mass,” said Kenneth Hudnut, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Reports from the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy estimated the 8.9-magnitude quake shifted the planet on its axis by nearly 4 inches (10 centimeters).

Read moreJapan: Earthquake Moved Coast 8 Feet, Shifted Earth’s Axis

Japan Earthquake: Tens Of Thousands Missing As Full Devastation Emerges

Tens of thousands were unaccounted for and whole towns wiped off the map as the full horror of Japan’s “super-earthquake” began to emerge on Saturday.

A soldier carries an elderly woman to an evacuation shelter in Kesennuma Photo: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Fears were compounded by a massive explosion on Saturday morning at a nuclear reactor, 160 miles north-east of Tokyo. Seawater was being pumped into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in an attempt to cool the radioactive core, while 90,000 people were evacuated from within a 12-mile radius.

Local authorities reported that almost 10,000 people – out of a population of 17,000 – were missing from the fishing port of Minamisanriku, which was engulfed by huge waves that swept inland for six miles. The earthquake was so powerful that Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology said the Earth’s axis shifted 9.8in [25cm]. The US Geological Survey said the main island of Japan had moved 7.8ft [2.4m].

Read moreJapan Earthquake: Tens Of Thousands Missing As Full Devastation Emerges

Taiwan: Agency Forecasts 10 Percent Chance of Radioactive Fallout Hitting Taiwan

The chances of radioactive fallout from two Japanese nuclear power plants crippled by Friday’s massive earthquake are not high, the Cabinet-level Atomic Energy Council said yesterday in a statement.

If two plants in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture release large amounts of radiation, the probability of it reaching Taiwan is only 10 percent, the council predicted.

The area most likely to fall victim to radiation from Japan would be Taiwan’s northeastern coast and Monday would be when it would most likely arrive, the council said.

Read moreTaiwan: Agency Forecasts 10 Percent Chance of Radioactive Fallout Hitting Taiwan

Iceland Hit By 400 Earthquakes in 24 Hours, Krisuvik Volcano Shows Activity

After four days of continues earthquake activity it appears that Krísuvík volcano has stepped up it’s activity by a order of magnitude. Since midnight there have been over 400 earthquakes in Krísuvík volcano. The activity is continuing when this is written and does not show any signs of slowing down at this moment. Geologist in Iceland are expecting more earthquakes in this area over the next hours and even earthquakes that are larger then ML3.0 in size.

Earthquake location 27 Feb 15:40 GMT

The largest earthquakes where ML3.3 and ML3.7 in size. This is automatic size by the SIL system. The depth of the earthquakes was 4.7 km and 1.1 km according to the automatic SIL system. Due to high number of earthquakes the SIL system is putting earthquakes down all around the Reykjanes Peninsula. While there might be some earthquakes there, the number is not nearly as high as can be seen on the map. The earthquakes can be located by there low quality number.

Read moreIceland Hit By 400 Earthquakes in 24 Hours, Krisuvik Volcano Shows Activity

Christchurch earthquake death toll rises with hundreds still missing – Supposedly quake-proof buildings collapsed – Galleries: Earthquake in Christchurch, NZ

Galleries: Earthquake in Christchurch, NZ (Daily Telegraph):

1 of 147

Murray and Kelly James look at their destroyed house in central Christchurch, New Zealand, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011. Tuesday’s magnitude-6.3 temblor collapsed buildings, caused extensive other damage and killed dozens of people in the city. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

–  Christchurch earthquake death toll rises with hundreds still missing (The Guardian):

Curfew and cordon thrown around rescue zone in centre of New Zealand city, where 75 are confirmed dead and 300 missing

Supposedly quake-proof buildings collapsed (Independent):

Perched on the border of two continental plates, New Zealand’s position in the Pacific Ring of Fire is precisely what gives the country much of its astonishing natural beauty. Its mountains, volcanoes and geothermal springs are all the product of intense tectonic activity. But geological beauty can be a double-edged sword.

Technically any new structure built in New Zealand has to be able to withstand intense quakes but footage has shown that, although older buildings in Christchurch seem to have been hit the hardest, plenty of newer ones that should have been able to survive a 6.3 quake have also collapsed.