Powerful earthquake hits north eastern Japan

by Alister POOLE on April 13, 2011

A powerful earthquake struck north-east Japan on Monday evening, exactly a month after the most recent devastating earthquake and the tsunami that followed it. The 7.1-magnitude tremor resulted in brief tsunami warnings being triggered, while forcing workers to evacuate Fukushima nuclear plant. Struck at depths of just 10km, the epicentre of the earthquake was situated in Fukushima prefecture.

It came while Japan said that it was extending its evacuation zone around the problem-ridden nuclear plant due to radiation concerns. Cooling systems at Fukushima Daiichi were damaged as a result of last month’s disaster, with workers struggling to prevent numerous reactors from releasing radiation while overheating.

Tepco, which is the plant’s operator, said that power used for pumping water and cooling three damaged reactors was cut briefly however early indications suggested that the plant hadn’t sustained any further damage. Following new data on accumulated radiation levels, the zone will be widened in order to encompass five communities just out of an existing 20kms radius.

Yukio Edano, a top government spokesman, said that new evacuations will take place over May, from areas that include Iitate village, which is 40kms from the power station, as well as a part of Kawamata, a local city.

The latest tremor struck not long after the country stopped and observed a minute’s silence to commemorate the nearly 28,000 Japanese citizens that are now dead or still missing.

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