Another quick update from me on the volatile situation over east here!
As scary as it is to say, it feels like the disaster is getting closer. We had a quake in shizuoka prefecture, the one bordering north of Aichi (where Nagoya is located) yesterday by Fuji at a magnitude of about 6.4, felt down here as a 3 or so. I did feel this one! And i was about ready to grab my emergency pack and run outside.
Everyone is very tense over here, not just the foreigners! The latter seem to be fleeing the country, with some governments calling people back and offering free flights. The number of tourists and business travelers now unaccounted for are around 900 so far.
As far as the Japanese are concerned – as I previously stated ‘there is another earthquake to come’. There has been a prediction for a major earthquake in the Tokai region (just south of Tokyo) for a while, and I thought at first this one was it but it turns out it’s NOT. This one has nothing to do with that one. However, how much this one has affected the likelihood of the earthquake just south on the faultline people don’t know, as there is no way to detect the amount of energy located at a certain place on the earth’s crust (therefore also exactly how big it will be is difficult to measure) – for more information see: http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2011/03/was-fridays-quake-tokyos-expec.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news
There was an earthquake this morning just north of this area registered at a 6 in Ibaraki prefecture… it just doesn’t stop.
So yes, even panic buying is happening down here, with cup noodles (because japanese have portable kerosene stoves) and the accompanying kerosene is almost sold out in the stores, toilet paper gone, batteries being bought in mass quantities. I think people are just so scared is that they’ve never had this much uncertainty hang over their heads… ever. And as word-of-mouth warnings of earthquake tomorrow! pass on from person to person, it’s hard not to feel a little on edge yourself, no matter how much you try and calm other people down. And as a result of panic buying, not enough resources are being sent north. Catch-22.
The weather isn’t helping people live normally as it’s all being messed-up: we’ve had lovely days of up to 15 degrees yesterday and the day before, today it’s CONSIDERABLY colder with very very short bursts of hail and snow, followed by clear blue sky. I was riding my bike with gloves today! Seems the weather may delay the cherry-blossom season a little, which might be appropriate for solidarity reasons.
As far as the most news-worthy disaster is concerned – the nuclear power plants are in a little bit of a pickle. Even the Japanese government isn’t sure on how to cool them down, with airplanes trying to pour water on it from the top. This morning there was an explosion in reactor 4 at Fukushima Daiichi (though the news was very clear to state that reactors 1 and 3 had hydrogen explosions but 2 and 4 only had explosions) and white smoke was coming out of reactor 3 – though a clarification of what white smoke means compared to black smoke wasn’t given (or i couldn’t understand the Japanese). reactors 5 and 6’s cooling systems stopped, but no other damage yet.
HOWEVER. Despite all the sensationalisations from the media, the radiation levels are not anywhere near critical. Tokyo is not going to be threatened by a chernobyl-esque explosion. And it’s very important to remember this. The 30km radius is enough to protect people from health damage in the worst case scenario.
And although there have been higher levels than normal detected in Tokyo, it is nowhere near threatening.
So, i would like to request people to focus back on to what started this whole mess to begin with and donate! Money is the biggest problem in large-scale devastations like this. Someone put quite nicely (i think) – man up for japan. Man being a pun on the japanese value of 1 mann, or 10,000 yen – about 90 pounds/93 euros or so.
If you don’t trust organisations, then donate directly to the Japanese red cross. I have.