Saturday, March 12, 2011

Some news of the Japan Earthquake

All of the world's news sites are now providing real time reports on the massive and tragic magnitude 8.9 earthquake that rocked Japan yesterday. TOVA sends out our condolences to the people of Japan and our well wishes that they will recover safely and quickly.

The moment I learned about the earthquake in Japan, I quickly sent emails to three of my friends living there. Two of them are native japanese and lives in Tokyo itself, one of them an employee of Honda who has been posted back to HQ. The third is fellow TOV'er Daniel Garcia who is working in Nagoya.

Daniel reported back saying Nagoya itself was not affected at all. It was great news.

My friend responded very quickly too. He works and lives within central Tokyo, very near the business district. He too reported that he and his family are all safe and sound. From his email response, it would seem that central Tokyo itself managed to escape relatively unscathed which is fantastic news. However, he said that he was unprepared for the intensity of the earthquake. It was surprising and alarming because all japanese, since young are regularly prepared for the event of an earthquake. As Daniel so eloquently described, the japanese are obssessed with natural calamity management. So they are fully prepared for an earthquake. Unfortunately it seems that the sheer POWER of this magnitude 8.9 earthquake caught them totally unprepared.

Still, with practically all buildings properly prepared against natural calamities, it seems that other than that widely circulated photo of a building in Odaiba on fire, damage to central Tokyo itself is relatively minor. The biggest impact however is the apparent breakdown of the infrastructure, especially the transport system. The extremely complicated Tokyo subway is driven by electricity by and large and due to power cut, many people are strandled. My friend himself managed to walk back home but it seems many were not so lucky.

My friend from Honda have not yet responded so far. A search in Google's 'People Finder' did not come up with anything. I am sure he is OK but I will probably contact Honda Malaysia to check up on his safety very soon.

It would seem that the outlying cities and towns around Tokyo and the more northernly areas are the most impacted, especially those located near the coast. The much reported 10metre high tsunami is already known by people all over the world, as is the terrifying damage to towns like Sendai.

In the TOV forums, it was also reported that there have been a few casualties in the automobile assembly plants of both Honda as well as rival Toyota.

Other than the fearsome damage done by the tsunami, at the moment the most terrifying fears on most people's mind is the problems at the nuclear power plants. There have been many reports and it is difficult to know exactly what is happening. It doesn't help at all that various news agencies are starting to bring in or quote various, previously unheard of, experts generously brandishing 'opinions' on the situation. It is especially alarming when 'experts' from 'renown universities' start to pronounce 'dire concern about nuclear meltdown of the core' and such things. My personal advice is to just stick to official news released by agencies such as NHK.

Another alarming trend is the growing popularity of the 'cover-up' scenario. So, many people have started to openly say that any news coming out from Japan must have been sugar-coated so as not to spread wide panic and that the actual situation is much worse, and that a nuclear disaster will happen soon. I feel such statements do not help at all.

At the moment, the only thing everyone here can do is to monitor closely and pray, in your own way, for the safety and well being of your friends and in general the people of Japan.

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