Disaster in Japan

A powerful earthquake struck off Japan's northeast coast, triggering a deadly tsunami and damaging the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

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Paul Hunter looks at what is being done to prepare for Japan's next tsunami and how the country is learning from the past. 

Disaster in Japan

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake, the biggest quake to hit Japan since officials began keeping records in the late 1800s, struck off Japan's northeast coast Friday, March 11 at 2:46 p.m. local time.  The earthquake triggered a tsunami that swallowed homes, boats, buildings, trains and cars, and washed away entire towns.  More than 14,000 people have been confirmed dead while another 12,000 are still missing. 

The earthquake and subsequent tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, knocking out power to its cooling systems. That affected the fuel rods in some of the plant's six reactors and in the pools where spent but still radioactive fuel rods are stored, setting off a series of hydrogen explosions, which caused further damage.  On April 12, the government boosted the severity level of the crisis to seven, the highest rating on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale and on par with the 1986 Chornobyl disaster.

Since the earthquake, the country's central bank has pumped more than 80 trillion yen ($937 billion US) into the financial system to stabilize markets.  Sony, Toyota and Honda, announced they would need to halt production or extend shutdowns on their production lines because of a shortage of parts. A leading research firm, IHS, has predicted that it may result in a shortfall of five million cars worldwide.

On this webpage, you will find all the reports from Japan by Chris Brown, Saša PetricicDavid Common and Paul Hunter, as well as our continuing coverage from outside the country.

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