Japanese Earthquake

A devastating earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter Scale struck just off the north-east coast of Japan at 5.46am GMT today. There is back to back coverage of the disaster on all the news channels delivering some absolutely astonishing scenes that look like something lifted straight out of a movie. The initial earthquake triggered a tsunami with waters being reported to have reached 10 kilometres inland and much of the Pacific basin put on alert for further damage as the tsunami ripples out through the ocean. Luckily, so far, reports indicate that neighbouring countries have only experienced very minimal water surges with no damage.

Japan, by contrast, has suffered terribly. The city’s buildings are very well earthquake ‘proofed’ these days but with the addition of torrents of water sweeping through dragging everything in its path, the scenes of devastation are horrific. Out of the cities, it is likely that the death toll will be far higher where houses are not able to withstand the impact and are swept away by the waters. Initial reports say there is a death toll of between 200 to 300 but I expect that number will be far higher as the situation unfolds.

A ship is reported to have been swept away with 100 passengers onboard, a train is missing and the footage of an entire town in the north of Japan literally being swept away was just shown on the news. Side effects of the initial quake have caused immense fires with a nuclear power plant in a state of emergency as water coolants failed. A huge whirlpool was generated in the turbulent waters, throwing about a boat trapped in its wake.

This earthquake follows on from a smaller earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand just a few weeks prior. Todays Japanese earthquake is said to be 8000 times more powerful than New Zealand’s. The two countries lie on a very active ‘Ring of Fire’ zone of tectonic activity.

As this terrible disaster unfolds, with more aftershocks still causing damage (some measuring higher than that of the Christchurch earthquake) and the true horror of the rescue process yet to begin, my thoughts go out to the people of Japan and wish the country a swift recovery with minimal casualties from this earthquake, the most powerful ever recorded in the country’s history.

Shanghai Then & Now

Excuse my ignorance, but when I glanced at this before and after photo of Shanghai, I thought it was 1900 and 2010. No! It’s 1990 and 2010! What a difference twenty years makes. I find it astonishing how a landscape can change so much when you see the similar skylines of New York and London change with (relatively) no difference over five years, or even ten years – bar 9/11 changing lower Manhattan. I travelled to Hong Kong in 2007 and was astonished at the land reclamation they had achieved in a few decades. The world is changing far more quickly than many of us realise. Maps are being redrawn and entire cities/countries are changing. What an amazing feat of engineering! Hopefully natural will not admonish to this achievement in physical versus natural beauty.

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