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SHAKE AND BLOW
Japan braced for more aftershocks of giant 2011 quake
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) July 12, 2014


Workers work on the construction of an ice wall at the tsunami-crippled Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo on July 9, 2014. Image courtesy AFP.

Moderate 5.6-magnitude quake strikes off PNG
Sydney (AFP) July 13, 2014 - A 5.6-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Papua New Guinea early Monday, US geologists said, but no tsunami warning was issued.

The quake struck at a depth of 35 kilometres (22 miles) off the northwest tip of New Britain island, according to the US Geological Survey, at 6:00 am local time (2000 GMT Sunday).

The epicentre was 109 kilometres west of the town of Rabaul.

Quakes are common in PNG, which sits on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.

Moderate 5.0 quake strikes northern Afghanistan
Kabul (AFP) July 13, 2014 - An 5.0-magnitude earthquake struck northern Afghanistan late Sunday, the US Geological Survey said.

The agency said the quake hit at 8:53 pm (1623 GMT) at a depth of 32 kilometres (20 miles).

The epicentre was 52 kilometres east-southeast of the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, capital of Balkh province, USGS said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

Downgraded typhoon brushes past Fukushima on way out to sea
Tokyo (AFP) July 11, 2014 - Tropical storm Neoguri skirted past the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant on Japan's east coast Friday and blew out to sea, leaving behind a trail of destruction and several people dead.

The storm was downgraded from a typhoon after sweeping past Tokyo earlier Friday, where it failed to disrupt the morning rush-hour, but was still packing winds of up 83 kilometres an hour (50 miles) and bringing heavy rain.

Workers at Fukushima had been scrambling to insulate the plant from any storm damage, but Neoguri had little impact on the site as it headed out into the Pacific.

Japan's weather agency, which had issued strong wind and rain warnings for the Fukushima region, later said the weather was forecast to improve Friday afternoon.

The mercury soared as the typhoon left Japan with Tokyo-area temperatures climbing to 38 degrees Celsius (100 F), leaving an 80-year-old woman dead from heat stroke and about 100 others hospitalised, public broadcaster NHK reported.

More than 60 people were left injured by the storm, officials and reports said, while as many as seven other deaths have been directly or indirectly linked to the typhoon.

Neoguri, which hit the mainland Thursday morning, reached Futtsu in Chiba prefecture, some 45 kilometres (30 miles) southeast of central Tokyo, shortly before 5:00 am (2000 GMT Thursday), the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Television footage showed high waves slamming into breakwaters in Chiba, while emergency officials hurriedly built temporary barriers to guard against landslides.

But the impact of the typhoon on the capital was limited, with train and flight services running as normal during the morning rush hour, local media reported.

More than 680 houses in several prefectures were earlier flooded or damaged due to the typhoon and heavy rain, according to the disaster management agency, with about 489,000 households urged to seek shelter.

Officials said there was still a risk of flooding and landslides from Neoguri, which earlier in the week prompted local authorities to urge half a million people to seek shelter in Okinawa.

Seismologists said an earthquake that struck near Japan's shuttered Fukushima nuclear site early Saturday was an aftershock of the tremor that sparked 2011's deadly tsunami, and warned of more to come.

The strong 6.8-magnitude earthquake off the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan caused a minor tsunami in the early hours, though authorities lifted all weather warnings roughly two hours later.

Seismologist Yasuhiro Yoshida of the Japan Meteorological Agency said it was a delayed tectonic reaction to the 9.0-magnitude quake which left the Fukushima nuclear power plant in a meltdown crisis after the coast was ravaged by monster tidal waves in March 2011.

"There are fears that relatively large earthquakes will occasionally occur in the ocean area where aftershocks of the great earthquake continue," he said.

"The aftershock activity has been steadily declining on a long-term basis. But aftershocks, accompanied by tsunamis, will still occur."

The 2011 disaster killed more than 18,000 people.

Saturday's quake measured up to four on the Japanese scale of seven in terms of intensity, and Yoshida said there was a possibility aftershocks measuring a moderate three on that scale would occur in the next two weeks.

At least three were injured in the latest quake but there was no damage done to the crippled nuclear plant less than 24 hours after dwindling super typhoon Neoguri skirted the Fukushima region and veered off into the Pacific, officials said.

The quake occurred at a depth of 13 kilometres (eight miles) off Fukushima's coast, according to the US Geological Survey.

It was strong enough to be felt in Tokyo, more than 200 kilometres (125 miles) to the south, with many people woken by earthquake alerts sent by the Japan Meteorological Agency to their mobile phones.

Japan's islands are situated at the conjuncture of several tectonic plates and experience a number of relatively violent quakes every year.

But thanks to strict building codes, even powerful quakes that might wreak havoc in other countries frequently pass without causing much damage.

Fukushima plant operators Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said there were no reports of any abnormality early Saturday.

Sea levels cannot be gauged near the nuclear plant as the tsunami monitoring system was destroyed by the 2011 disaster.

"We have not seen any damage or any change in radiation gauges after the quake," said TEPCO spokesman Masahiro Asaoka.

"Our temporary breakwater that was newly built at the plant is high enough to block a one-metre tsunami," he added.

The Fukushima plant's cooling systems were swamped by the tsunami three years ago, sparking reactor meltdowns and radiation leaks in the worst atomic crisis since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated from around the plant, with decommissioning of the site expected to take decades.

The facility is struggling to handle a huge and swelling volume of contaminated water at the plant.

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Related Links
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