Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Magnitude 5.4 Quake Hits Central Japan; 7 Injured

Published: Wednesday, 29 Jun 2011 | 10:14 PM ET By: Reuters

A magnitude 5.4 earthquake hit central Japan and injured seven people on Thursday, but there were no immediate reports of major damage.

The epicentre of the earthquake, which struck around 8:16 a.m. was in Nagano prefecture, about 120 km (75 miles) from Tokyo, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

No tsunami warning was issued after the quake, the agency said. The magnitude was revised down from a preliminary reading of 5.5.

Seven people were taken to hospital including those hurt from falling objects, but the injuries did not appear serious, an official at the local fire department said.

Japan accounts for about 20 percent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

On March 11, the northeast coast was struck by a magnitude 9 earthquake, the strongest quake in Japan on record, and a massive tsunami, which triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The disaster left up to 23,000 dead or missing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Huge 7.4 earthquake rocks Alaskan islands

Posted: 24 June 2011 1138 hrs

WASHINGTON: A powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake shook Alaska's remote Aleutian Islands late on Thursday, but US officials did not issue a tsunami warning for the Pacific Ocean.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

A tsunami advisory issued by the US West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (WCATWC) warned nearby coastal residents to "move immediately inland to higher ground and away from all harbors and inlets including those sheltered directly from the sea."

The quake on the Fox Islands -- 101 miles (163 kilometers) east of the tiny fishing port of Atka -- struck at 6:09 pm local time (0309 GMT), the US Geological Survey said in a statement.

"Those feeling the earth shake, seeing unusual wave action or the water level rising or receding may have only a few minutes before the tsunami arrival and should move immediately," warned the WCATWC.

"Homes and small buildings are not designed to withstand tsunami impacts.

Do not stay in these structures," officials warned.

The quake struck more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) west of the major Alaskan city of Anchorage.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Powerful Quakes Rattle New Zealand City, 10 Injured

A series of powerful tremors rattled the quake-prone New Zealand city of Christchurch on Monday, destroying buildings and sending boulders tumbling down hillsides nearly four months after a quake killed 181 people.

There were no reported fatalities. New Zealand's Civil Defence said 10 people suffered minor injuries in the quakes, with the strongest put at a magnitude of 6.0 at 2.20 p.m. (0220 GMT) local time.

Buildings were evacuated and infrastructure damaged across the city, still trying to recover from the Feb. 22 6.3 magnitude earthquake.

Monday's quake knocked the New Zealand dollar [NZD=D4 Unavailable () ] lower and was seen as another hurdle to rebuilding New Zealand's second largest city, likely encouraging the Reserve Bank of New Zealand to keep interest rates on hold for longer.

"You can draw a picture already of a significant earthquake," Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker told Radio New Zealand. A cloud of dust had enveloped the city after the quakes, he said.

Civil Defence said two people had been rescued from a damaged church. There were no further reports of trapped people.

As with the initial quake, Monday's aftershock sent boulders on the city's Port Hills tumbling towards houses. Parts of the eastern city which suffered the most damage in February's tremor suffered from flooding and liquefaction - where solid ground is turned into liquid by the force of the quake.

New Zealand's GNS Institute said the earthquakes were within the expected pattern after February's tremor and could well trigger fresh seismic activity.

"We would expect a number of aftershocks in the magnitude 4.0 to 5.0 range on the coming days and weeks," said Kelvin Berryman, GNS's Manager of Natural Hazards Research.

Prime Minister John Key said the new tremor would probably affect recovery efforts. "I acknowledge that this is a setback for Christchurch, but it does not lessen our resolve to rebuild," he told reporters in parliament.

Power Cuts, Infrastructure Damaged

Power was cut to about 50,000 houses and there were reports of damage to roads, buildings and water supplies.

A number of homes were likely to remain without power overnight, with the temperature likely to dip close to freezing.

Christchurch has experienced a number of strong earthquakes since a magnitude 7.1 quake struck the city on Sept 4 last year.

On Monday, five tremors of magnitude 4.3 or greater were recorded from 0029 GMT. A 5.5 tremor at 0100 GMT was believed to have caused most of the damage 10 km (6 miles) south-east of the city centre at a depth of 11 km.

Parts of the city centre have been closed since the Feb 22 quake. One of the city's tallest buildings, the Grand Chancellor Hotel, has been declared unstable and is being prepared for demolition.

The cost to rebuild Christchurch after the quakes has been estimated at around NZ$15 billion ($12.2 billion).

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand cut rates after the February tremor to a record-equalling low of 2.50 percent. But signs of recovery and an upbeat assessment from the bank at its review last week have led markets to price in rate rises from December.

However, markets would start to ease back on expectations of a rate hike, said Tim Kelleher, CBA's vice president of institutional banking and markets.

"It puts things like the rebuild of Christchurch further on delay," he said.