◎ 海外の友人の反応 今回の震災に海外の人々、とりわけ日本に住んだことがある、あるいは日本人の友人がいる人達の関心度は大変高いものです。
Subject: Two weeks from Mega Tsunami
Thank you for all the warm messages and concern for us and the people of Japan during this time of great catastrophe.
Two weeks have passed since the earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11. Perhaps there is a limit to the amount of information and news that is reported there so we would like to give you an update from our perspective on what is happening here.
On March 11 at 2:46 pm we felt a great tremor in Tokyo. It was the biggest tremor we had ever felt. It was like being on a ship in rough seas, rocking back and forth, lasting for more than 1 minute. Until now quakes had strong shaking but this time it was rolling for a long time.
Toshi immediately put on the TV and there was a report of a large earthquake off the NE coast of Japan. It was reported that a quake of magnitude 7.9 had struck off the coast of Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. The Kobe earthquake registered magnitude 7.3 so this was greater than that.
Soon after the magnitude was upgraded to 8.3 and then again to 8.8, an unprecedented level in Japan.
Within one minute after the quake was reported, a tsunami was predicted to hit and an alarm was sounded for all people along the coast to quickly evacuate to higher ground.
The hardest hit area of Miyagi, with its jagged coastline, has experienced many quakes and tsunami in the past. The residents have trained often to evacuate to higher ground in case of emergency and know the procedure.
From the data of earthquakes and tsunami for 400 years, they have maintained strong embankments that can bear a 7 meters or 23 foot high tsunami. Then a safe elevation zone for evacuation was built at 7 meters or a higher place.
But this time the tsunami was 14 meters or 46 ft high and even higher in some places. At the highest point the tsunami registered 23 meters or 70 ft high and the measuring equipment was destroyed and unable to record correctly.
The predicted tsunami was more than double the size imagined and the first tsunami arrived at 3:15 pm, 30 minutes after the quake.
In the area where the tsunami hit the quake tremor was much greater than what we felt in Tokyo. Most of the houses and buildings could withstand the power of the quake. If there had not been such a big tsunami the damages would have been far less.
As of today, the people who have died and are missing in this disaster already number over 27,000 and is expected to rise. The survivors who were able to escape to higher ground than the regular evacuation place are lucky to be alive.
The people who escaped to the upper floors of schools and hospitals were swept away. If the tsunami had only been smaller more lives could have been saved.
Two days after the quake the data was again upgraded to magnitude 9.0. If the magnitude measurement increases by 2 points, the power is multiplied by 1,000. This means this quake was 1,000 times stronger than the Kobe earthquake. It was the strongest earthquake to hit Japan in 400 years.
The 14 meters or 46 ft tsunami hit the nuclear power plants in Fukushima which were built to withstand only half as much.
At the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant along the coast four of the six reactors have been seriously damaged. The Fukushima No.2 nuclear power plant, which has four reactors, located 10km away from No.1 plant are in safe condition.
At the time of the quake the reactors were immediately shut down properly for emergency procedure.
The difference between No.1 and No.2 is that the No.2 power plant cooling system is working normally after the earthquake, but No.1 is not. The tsunami washed away the No.1 plant emergency diesel generator that runs the power plant ﾕs cooling system.
After stopping the operation of the reactor, fuel rod heat continues. You may see on TV discharging water from a fire truck for cooling the heat. Parallel to the discharge work, wire leading to the cooling system has begun. Hopefully restarting the cooling system will be realized in the near future.
If the cooling system is activated normally, then it could escape the worst. A million thanks to those who work for fire fighting and power restoration overcoming the dangers of radioactivity.
We want to tell our American Tomodachi (Friends) all about the U.S. military relief efforts.
Immediately after the earthquake, U.S. forces in Japan at the request of the Japanese government has started the rescue operation, named "Operation Tomodachi".
Located almost in the middle of the disaster areas, Sendai airport was devastated by the tsunami and responsibility for the recovery was the work of the U.S. Marines from Okinawa. It took four days after the earthquake to use the airport and the airport can now be a base in carrying relief supplies to affected areas.
Because roads are cut of by tsunami devastation, the urgent task is to deliver relief supplies to affected areas. We all have word of thanks to U.S. military activities in this.
Atsugi base, shared by US Navy and Japan Self Defense Forces, which is located near our house in Ebina, put all their functions on supporting the earthquake victims.
The Atsugi base is running for 24 hours since the 11th and allocates full functionality of the military to disaster assistance involving some 4,000 soldiers.
Water, diapers and foods are transported from here to Sendai airport by helicopters and cargo aircrafts and also from the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier moored off the coast of Sendai.
U.S. government for nuclear accidents has been supporting us in various forms. Your thoughts to the Japanese people are well communicated. Thanks, thanks.
Finally, we will tell you about Yuriko's cousin in Soma, Fukushima.
After the tsunami washed away their house, they evacuated to their parents who live in Minami-Soma city, 10km away. But unfortunately the parent's house is located within 20 km or 12.5 miles radius of a nuclear accident evacuation area.
Yuriko's cousin and family had to evacuate again to 50 km away from there.
We proposed to them to move to Tokyo and stay with us. The distance between the place they evacuated and Tokyo is 300 km or 190 miles. Because gasoline is not available there, they had to give up on driving here.
The most serious matter is relief for people who lost their beloved family members and homeless people. Tohoku area is still cold and light snow falls. Petrol tankers can not pass as well to bring the gasoline and kerosene, and people spend cold nights without heating. People are completely without electricity, gas and water lifelines.
However, the situation has definitely improved. People in Japan and many companies continue to work hard to help them. In addition, the support by U.S. military continues.
Last night we got a call from Yuriko's cousin, she told us they will come and stay in Tokyo this coming Sunday. We will welcome them warmly.
Sometime later, we will be able to report on activities for reconstruction and rebirth activities.
We have more things to tell you, but this is all for now.
Again, Thank you for your concerns and emails received from everybody.
Toshi & Yuriko
March 25, 2011