Saturday, March 12, 2011

Earthquake and tsunami in Japan

Horrible stuff.
NAKAMINATO, Japan — Japan on Saturday mobilized a nationwide rescue effort to pluck survivors from collapsed buildings and rush food and water to thousands in an earthquake and tsunami zone under siege, without water, electricity, heat or telephone service.

Entire villages in parts of Japan’s northern Pacific coast have vanished under a wall of water, many communities are cut off, and a nuclear emergency was unfolding near two stricken reactors as Japanese tried to absorb the scale of the destruction after Friday’s powerful earthquake and devastating tsunami.

Japanese news media estimates of the death toll ranged between 1,300 and 1,700, but much of the north was impassible and by late Saturday, rescuers had not arrived in the worst-hit areas. More than 300,000 people have been evacuated, with 90,000 fleeing the zone around the nuclear plant in Fukushima, according to Kyodo News. Most of the deaths were from drowning, but firefighters and Japan’s Self-Defense Forces were rushing to prevent a higher toll, flying in helicopters and struggling to put out fires burning in industrial complexes or tearing through Japan’s many vulnerable wooden homes. Many communities were still scrambling to find the missing.