New Magnitude 7.1 Earthquake Rocked Japan’s Kyushu Island

 Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : A magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocked Japan’s Kyushu island in southern Japan after a magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck on Thursday. Both were the strongest quakes that rattled Japan since the fatal 2011 earthquake that killed thousands and caused the catastrophic meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (NPP). The Sendai and the Genkai NPPs are located on Kyushu island.

Japan_Earthquake aftermath_Apr 2016The new magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Kyushu island in the early morning hours of Saturday. A tsunami warning that had been issued has since been lifted.

The epicenter of the “aftershock” that was stronger than the previous magnitude 6.5 earthquake was near Kumamoto city. The rupture happened at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers.

Earthquake-Report.Com quotes damage specialist Dr. James Daniell from CEDIM in Karlsruhe, Germany, as stating that about 110 fatalities with a range from 12 to around 900 can be expected while Professor Max Wyss, who specializes in theoretical prognosis of injuries and fatalities expects 700 – 8,000 injuries and 200 – 2,000 fatalities as a result of the massive earthquake.

Kumamoto_Japan_Earthquake Apr 14, 2016Hundreds of people have been and are seeking medical attention while search, rescue and recovery efforts are ongoing. The medical situation has been aggravated due to fears that the Kunamoto Shimin Hospital may collapse after the latest quake and a series of strong aftershocks.

An evacuation of the hospital is being considered. The situation is further aggravated by the fact that heavy rainfall is expected. The combination of aftershocks and heavy rainfall increases the risk of landslides.

The national and regional governments have advised people to seek refuge in emergency shelters if needed. Japan is prone to earthquakes and public awareness of risks as well as of emergency plans and ways of coping with earthquakes is very high, as compared to e.g. in the United States.

Initial reports are sketchy. However, there have been reports about bridges that have fallen, tunnels that have collapsed, and of people who have been buried under rubble or trapped inside damages structures.

Japan Earthquake_Apr 16. 2016Both the Sendai and the Genkai NPPs are located on the island. There have been no immediate reports about eventual damage to the nuclear facilities.  Kyushu Electric Power Co. said it found no abnormalities in its Sendai nuclear plant… The operator said it is further looking into any possible damage.

It should, however, be noted that the industry and the Japanese government are as hesitant with releasing information about nuclear incidents as the country is generally well-prepared for coping with earthquakes.

In December 2014 nsnbc reported that the Japanese government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion issued a geographical forecast for major earthquakes.

The report reveals that the probability for the occurrence of major, devastating earthquakes in some of Japan’s most densely populated regions over the coming 30 years is 26 % or higher. Some of Japan’s nuclear power plants are located in the zones with the highest earthquake and tsunami risk.

The report estimates earthquake probability throughout Japan and plots the geographical forecast in a color-coded map to indicate earthquake risks. The map shows that no region in Japan is exempt from the probability of a major seismic event but most disturbingly, some of Japan’s nuclear power plants are located in the zones with the highest risk for an earthquake that causes major structural damage, and along Japan’s eastern coast.

Map over Japan's NPPs.

Map over Japan’s NPPs.

The latter fact significantly increases the risk of a major tsunami and a repetition of the still ongoing disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). The red zones (see map) forecast a 26 percent or above probability for a major seismic event, measuring 6 or higher on Japan’s earthquake scale that has a magnitude 7 as maximum, over the coming 30 years.

Japanese experts warn that there is no room for delaying necessary measures, including the improvement of methodologies for the forecast of earthquakes, earthquake and tsunami-proofing measures, as well as safety measures with regard to Japan’s nuclear power plants.

The risk for an above magnitude 6 earthquake in Japan’s second largest city Yokohama with over 3.6 million residents over the coming 30 years is estimated to be as high as 78 percent. Risk in the city of Chiba is estimated at 73 percent and the risk for the cities of Mito and Kochi is as high as 70 percent.

The risk for a major, destructive earthquake in the capital Tokyo is estimated to be 46 percent. In other words, there is an almost 50 – 50 percent chance that the capital will experience a major, destructive earthquake within the next 30 years.

The report stressed that both the crippled Fukushima Daiichi NPP and other NPPs are located in the “red zone” . These include the Sendai NPP with two reactors, the Ikata NPP with three reactors, the Hamaoka NPP with three reactors, of which two are being decommissioned.

The location of the NPPs and their current status has been plotted and is regularly updated by the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency. It is noteworthy that the fact that a nuclear power plant isn’t currently operating does not mean that the facility is safe. Among major concerns are, spent fuel tanks which could rupture, causing hydrogen gas explosions, open air fission processes and under certain circumstances a nuclear explosion.

CH/L – nsnbc 15.04.2016

Regular updates can be accessed at Earthquake-Report.Com

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