- Title: JAPAN: Structures in Sendai port on fire and several buildings reduced to rubble
- Date: 14th March 2011
- Summary: SLATE INFORMATION
- Embargoed: 29th March 2011 13:00
- Location: Japan, Japan
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVA2NAW0TGT0ENTT53U6V2N5F8ZG
- Story Text: Shocked residents picked through the debris and surveyed the damage on Sunday (March 13) as rescue workers hunted for survivors of a massive earthquake and tsunami which hit northeastern Japan.
In Sendai, the prefectural capital of Miyagi prefecture, fires continued to burn at oil processing and cargo facilities which caught fire when the 9.0-magnitude tremor struck on Friday (March 11).
Firefighters were trying to contain a blaze in a building of JFE Bars and Shapes Corporation, a firm that makes special steel bars and wires for automobile parts and construction machinery.
"It's something that's out of everyone's expectations. No one thought that the damage would be this bad. There's been a lot of big earthquakes, but this is the first of this size and it makes you think about how it's not a simple thing and realise all over again that you never know when disaster can strike," said Nobuo Ishigamori, 56, an employee at JFE.
The blaze was still spreading despite the firefighters' efforts.
"That over there should be straight but it's facing this way instead. And all of these are new cars, and behind me is the truck terminal," said Mitsuharu Nemoto, a Daihatsu employee, pointing at a building.
Nemoto went to see the damage to his company's cars which were parked at a port terminal awaiting shipment.
Kyodo news agency, which said the number of dead or unaccounted for was expected to exceed 2,000, reported that there had been no contact with around 10,000 people in one town, more than half its population.
Rescue teams from several countries including Australia, China, the UK and U.S., were on the way to Japan in response to a plea for assistance by the Japanese government.
Along the northeast coast rescue workers searched through the wreckage of destroyed buildings, cars and boats, looking for survivors in hardest-hit areas such as Sendai, 300 km (180 miles) northeast of Tokyo.
More than 300,000 had been evacuated nationwide, seeking refuge in shelters, Kyodo said.
The earthquake was the fifth most powerful to hit the world in the past century. It surpassed the Great Kanto quake of Sept. 1, 1923, which had a magnitude of 7.9 and killed more than 140,000 people in the Tokyo area.
The economic cost is set to be immense.
Honda Motors, one of Japan's big automobile manufacturers, has already suspended operations in two prefectures as supply of auto parts had been cut, NHK reported.
The 1995 Kobe quake caused $100 billion in damage and was the most expensive natural disaster in history. Economic damage from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was estimated at about $10 billion.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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