Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Earthquake rattles New Zealand capital

Posted: 03 July 2012 1910 hrs WELLINGTON - A 6.2-magnitude earthquake rattled the New Zealand capital of Wellington on Tuesday, the US Geological Survey said, but there were no immediate reports of any damage or casualties. The quake hit at a depth of 236 kilometres at 1036GMT around 173 kilometres northwest of the city, USGS said. The quake was strong enough to be felt by residents in the city. A 6.3-magnitude quake hit New Zealand's second largest city of Christchurch in February last year, flattening office blocks and toppling buildings onto lunchtime crowds and leaving 185 people dead. The sparsely populated country sits on the so-called "Ring of Fire", the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year. - AFP/ir

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Two Quakes Strike Off Japan's Coast


TOKYO—An earthquake struck off the eastern coast of Japan, shaking buildings in Tokyo but not causing any reported damage. It was the second large tremor to hit Japan on Wednesday, following a quake that struck off the northern island of Hokkaido.

The second quake, with a magnitude of 6.1, hit around 9:05 p.m. local time, and was centered in the bay east of Chiba prefecture at a depth of about 10 kilometers, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency website.

Japanese authorities said there was no danger of a tsunami. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it hadn't detected any problems with its nuclear reactors, including those at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant, located farther north. Some train lines were paused briefly, but soon resumed service.

The quake followed a magnitude-6.8 tremor that struck off the northern island of Hokkaido earlier Wednesday. That quake sparked a small tsunami wave along Japan's northeastern coast, and prompted authorities to issue an evacuation warning. It caused no apparent damage.

Write to Phred Dvorak at phred.dvorak@wsj.com

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Another Earhtquake rocks Tokyo

Posted: 01 January 2012 1423 hrs

TOKYO: A major 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Tokyo Sunday as Emperor Akihito led Japan's New Year celebrations by urging people to work together in rebuilding the nation from March's quake-tsunami disaster.

The tremor struck at 2:28pm (0528 GMT) with its focus deep at about 370 kilometres (230 miles), Japan's Meteorological Agency said. The US Geological Survey put the depth at 348 kilometres.

Its epicentre was located near Torishima, a northwestern Pacific island about 560 kilometres south of Tokyo.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injury and no tsunami warning was issued.

The mid-afternoon quake swayed buildings in Tokyo and surrounding areas but it did not disrupt the final of the Emperor's Cup football tournament under way at the National Stadium.

"Some people, who were walking, did not seem to notice the quake," a spokesman for Tokyo Disneyland said, adding business went on as usual at the theme park after some rides were automatically shut down.

He did not give the number of visitors on the day but estimated it at several tens of thousands.

Train runs and airline flights in and around the capital area were not affected.

A 9.0-magnitude quake and monster tsunami ravaged the country's northeast on March 11, killing more than 19,000 people, and crippled a nuclear power plant which has been since leaking radiation into the environment.

In a New Year message, Emperor Akihito said: "Our country is now going through difficult times because of the earthquake and other factors."

"But I hope that the people's hearts will always be with the afflicted, and that everyone will persevere and work together to build a brighter tomorrow."

Wishes for the nation's recovery appeared to have dominated as the new year started in Japan with tens of thousands of people flocking to Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples to offer money and pray for good fortune.

- AFP/cc

Friday, December 23, 2011

Powerful quakes rock New Zealand's Christchurch

WELLINGTON: New Zealand's Christchurch was Friday rocked by a fresh series of powerful earthquakes, sending terrified people fleeing into the streets 10 months after a devastating quake claimed 181 lives.

Two shallow quakes of magnitude 5.8 and 5.9 and a series of aftershocks struck as the town centre was packed with afternoon Christmas shoppers, sending stock tumbling from the shelves and turning the festive mood to panic.

The quakes, which closed the international airport and disrupted communications, were the latest in a series that began 15 months ago and have destroyed much of the inner-city.

Local news media reported people fleeing in fear as the quake and a series of aftershocks rattled the city, leading to liquefaction and flooding in some suburbs worst hit by previous earthquakes.

Liquefaction is caused when shaking loosens the bonds between soil particles, turning the ground into a quagmire.

"It was very frightening there for a wee moment," one resident, Brian Cornish, told National Radio.

"Everybody out in the car park was flung on the ground, liquefaction started up in the car park, the building rocked like crazy, all the cars were bouncing up and down on their springs."

"You can't underestimate the ongoing stress this has created for people," Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker said, while Prime Minister John Key described the impact as "frightening and disheartening" for the beleaguered residents.

The lives of people in New Zealand's second largest city have been shattered by a series of earthquakes that began in September last year when a tremor of 7.0 struck.

That quake caused widespread destruction but because it hit just before dawn there were few casualties.

But on February 22, a lunchtime 6.3 quake killed 181 people and reduced much of the downtown area, including the city's Anglican cathedral, to a pile of rubble, while in the suburbs thousands of homes were written off.

The cost of repairing the city has been put at NZ$20 billion ($15.5 billion), and even after the latest quakes Key said the government's resolve to rebuild Christchurch remains unchanged.

Smaller earthquakes in the 3.0-4.0 range have become an almost daily occurrence in Christchurch but only a few thousand from a population of more than 350,000 people are reported to have left the city.

Deputy mayor Ngaire Button said the latest quakes coming at the end of a difficult year, were likely to make more people consider moving elsewhere but she doubted many would go.

"Every aftershock we've had, there have been people who have felt that way, we can't blame them for that," she said.

"We do recover, though, and hopefully tomorrow we'll all be feeling a little bit better again and restoring our faith in the will to live and the will to live in Christchurch."

One woman, Susan Holmes, told TV3 she had had enough.

"It's beyond devastating, It's happened again. I'm sick of it," a sobbing Holmes said as she faced the prospect of clearing debris from her home for the fourth time in 16 months."

The US Geological Survey said a 5.8-magnitude quake struck at 1:58 pm (0058 GMT) Friday at a depth of less than five kilometres (three miles). It was followed 70 minutes later by a 5.9 tremor at about the same depth.

One person was rushed to hospital after being injured in a shopping mall and the National Crisis Management Centre was activated.

Telephone services were cut in many areas and electricity supplies disrupted, but police said there were no reports of other injuries or widespread damage.

The international airport and shopping malls were all evacuated and closed as a precautionary measure.

"I'm pretty sure we will be open again this afternoon," airport chief executive Jim Boult told Radio New Zealand.

Police spokesman Stephen Hill said a few buildings collapsed and people were also urged to stay away from hill suburbs because of a risk of rockfalls.

Scientists had warned last month of an increased probability that another powerful earthquake would hit Christchurch.

"We knew to expect aftershocks and one in the range around about 6.0 was expected over the next 12 months and that appears to have arrived," Parker said.

New Zealand sits on the so-called "Ring of Fire" the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Magnitude 6.8 Quake Hits Japan, No Damage Reported

Published: Friday, 19 Aug 2011 | 2:33 AM ET By: Reuters

A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 jolted northeastern Japan off Fukushima prefecture on Friday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, although no damage was reported and a tsunami advisory for the area was lifted after no waves were sighted.--

Some highways were closed and high-speed bullet trains were halted after the quake, public broadcaster NHK said.

A 50 cm (20 inch) tsunami advisory was issued for the coastal areas of Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures that were severely damaged by the massive March 11 quake and tsunami, but was lifted about 35 minutes late.

Tokyo Electric Power Co said no abnormalities had been found at radiation monitoring posts at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, about 240 km (150 miles) northeast of Tokyo, or the nearby Daini plant, and that cooling operations at the damaged reactors were continuing.

Tohoku Electric Power said there were no abnormalities at its Onagawa nuclear power plant, which has been shut since the March disaster.

The focus of the tremor was off the coast of Fukushima, 20 km below the earth's surface, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

On March 11, the northeast coast was struck by a magnitude 9 earthquake, the strongest on record in Japan, and a massive tsunami that triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The disaster left about 20,400 dead or missing.