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Disaster in Japan worsens: Aftershocks continue, U.S. military evacuates families

Thursday, March 17th, 2011 4:16pm MDT
More than 500 earthquakes have been recorded in and near Japan in the past seven days. Click the image for a larger view.

More than 500 earthquakes have been recorded in and near Japan in the past seven days. Click the image for a larger view. (Natural Disasters Examiner)

The situation brought on by last week’s earthquake and tsunami continues to worsen in Japan.  Aftershocks continue at an astounding rate, the humanitarian disaster is growing and the threat of a nuclear disaster has prompted the United States to begin evacuations of military families.

As reported by the Natural Disasters Examiner, the Department of Defense announced this morning that the State Department was planning voluntary evacuations of military families and the families of government employees from Japan. The U.S. will also work to evacuate civilians that live within a 50 mile radius of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The power facility sustained significant damage in the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last Friday. Critical cooling systems at the plant continue to fail, and Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the plant, has struggled to regain control of the reactors.

Col. Otto Feather, 374th Airlift Wing commander at Yokota Air Base, told his command in a radio address, “I know there are a lot of people trying to figure out how to get out of here, and I’m not surprised that there are people that want to get on the road.”

The international community has joined with Japan’s own resources in aiding with the recovery. More than 100,000 Japanese Self-Defense Force personnel have been deployed, and tens of thousands of agencies from across the globe, including the United States military, are on scene or rushing to provide assistance. The U.S. Navy had aircrews contaminated with radiation and has since repositioned its ships in the area.

The disasters have led to an unfolding humanitarian crisis as more than one million are without power and supplies such as food and water are becoming scarce. The catastrophe the nation faces has been called the worst crisis for Japan since World War II.

On Tuesday, March 9th, a sizeable magnitude 7.2 quake struck off the east coast of Japan.  It triggered a small tsunami and was considered a minor event.  Several smaller quakes followed but they were only the opening act.

The U.S. military has been deployed to aid Japan in recovering from the earthquake and tsunami. Click the image for a slideshow of the military's efforts in Japan. (Examiner.com)

The U.S. military has been deployed to aid Japan in recovering from the earthquake and tsunami. Click the image for a slideshow of the military's efforts in Japan. (Examiner.com)

On Friday, March 11th the earth let loose with what was the fourth largest earthquake to strike the globe since 1900.  The massive 9.0 temblor shook the Japanese island of Honshu and triggered a tsunami 23 feet high that struck the coastline.  The waves traveled across the Pacific causing damage as far away as California.

Since that time, earthquakes continue to roil under the ocean and on the Japanese mainland.  The US Geological Survey (USGS) has recorded more than 500 earthquakes over magnitude 4.0 in the past seven days in the area.  Several of these were substantial quakes of magnitude 6.0 or higher.

An animation, seen below, show the tremendous level of activity has been released  and is absolutely astounding to watch.  Two foreshocks are seen before the massive quake on Friday and then the swarm of aftershocks begins with startling frequency and intensity.

More stories from the Natural Disasters Examiner:

We are providing complete coverage of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan on the Natural Disasters Examiner on Examiner.com.

Remember that by visiting our Examiner.com stories, you are helping to support ThorntonWeather.com.

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