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Published On: Fri, Apr 15th, 2016

Japan Rattled by Magnitude 6.5 Earthquake near Sendai and Genkai Nuclear Plants

Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : At least nine were killed and more than 850 were injured when a magnitude 6.5 earthquake rattled Japan. The epicenter of the most powerful quake since the 2011 quake that flooded Japan’s eastern coastline and crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (NPP) was east of Kumamoto, not far from the Sendai and Genkai NPPs.

Kumamoto_Japan_Earthquake Apr 14, 2016The Japanese State broadcaster NHK reported that at least nine were killed and more than 850 were injured in the 6.5 earthquake. At the time of the reporting, some 400 were seeking medical attention at hospitals. The earthquake struck at 9:26 p.m. local time (12:26 GMT). The epicenter was located about 7 kilometers from the city of Kumamoto in Kumamoto prefecture in southern Japan.

Aftershocks measured up to 5.7. and 5.9 on the Richter scale. The village closest to the epicenter is Mashiko where several buildings collapsed and fires erupted. Search and rescue operations are currently ongoing. Some 400 personnel from Japan’s defense forces participate in these operations. Not long after the quake struck, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that the government intends to do its utmost and carry on with life-saving and rescue operations throughout the night.

The death toll of nine is expected to rise as the magnitude of the damage caused by the earthquake becomes apparent. Several persons are known to be trapped inside buildings, others may yet have to be discovered. Japan and Japan’s civil society are relatively well-prepared for coping with earthquakes.

Map over Japan's NPPs.

Map over Japan’s NPPs. Click on the image to enlarge.

Tragically, the epicenter of the earthquake was disturbingly near the Sendai and the Genkai Nuclear Power Plants. In December 2014 nsnbc reported that the Japanese government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion issued a geographical forecast for major earthquakes.

The report reveals that the probability for the occurrence of major, devastating earthquakes in some of Japan’s most densely populated regions over the coming 30 years is 26 % or higher. Some of Japan’s nuclear power plants are located in the zones with the highest earthquake and tsunami risk.

The report estimates earthquake probability throughout Japan and plots the geographical forecast in a color-coded map to indicate earthquake risks. The map shows that no region in Japan is exempt from the probability of a major seismic event but most disturbingly, some of Japan’s nuclear power plants are located in the zones with the highest risk for an earthquake that causes major structural damage, and along Japan’s eastern coast.

The latter fact significantly increases the risk of a major tsunami and a repetition of the still ongoing disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). The red zones (see map) forecast a 26 percent or above probability for a major seismic event, measuring 6 or higher on Japan’s earthquake scale that has a magnitude 7 as maximum, over the coming 30 years.

Japan_Earthquake risk_Dec 2014_mapJapanese experts warn that there is no room for delaying necessary measures, including the improvement of methodologies for the forecast of earthquakes, earthquake and tsunami-proofing measures, as well as safety measures with regard to Japan’s nuclear power plants. The risk for an above magnitude 6 earthquake in Japan’s second largest city Yokohama with over 3.6 million residents over the coming 30 years is estimated to be as high as 78 percent. Risk in the city of Chiba is estimated at 73 percent and the risk for the cities of Mito and Kochi is as high as 70 percent.

The risk for a major, destructive earthquake in the capital Tokyo is estimated to be 46 percent. In other words, there is an almost 50 – 50 percent chance that the capital will experience a major, destructive earthquake within the next 30 years. The report stressed that both the crippled Fukushima Daiichi NPP and other NPPs are located in the “red zone” . These include the Sendai NPP with two reactors, the Ikata NPP with three reactors, the Hamaoka NPP with three reactors, of which two are being decommissioned.

The location of the NPPs and their current status has been plotted and is regularly updated by the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency. It is noteworthy that the fact that a nuclear power plant isn’t currently operating does not mean that the facility is safe. Among major concerns are, spent fuel tanks which could rupture, causing hydrogen gas explosions, open air fission processes and under certain circumstances a nuclear explosion.

CH/L – nsnbc 15.04.2016


Subsequent massive and dangerous aftershocks caused more damage. See regular updates at Earthqake-Report.Com

Follow-up article:

New Magnitude 7.1 Earthquake Rocked Japan’s Kyushu Island

About the Author

- Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc. He is a psychologist and former independent political consultant on conflict, conflict resolution and a wide range of other political issues. In March 2013 he established nsnbc as a daily, independent, international on-line newspaper. He can be contacted at nsnbc international at

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