An 8.9 magnitude earthquake has struck off the northern coast of Japan, resulting in a tsunami and heavy damage. Damage and fires are reported in and near Tokyo, almost 300 miles away. Death toll counts already vary, but given a seven-meter-plus wave and the reports coming in, it is likely to be much worse than the present number. Some of the good news coming out is that all nuclear plants are safe, that rescue efforts are already underway, that all U.S. troops and ships are safe, and that some safety systems worked and worked well. The bad news is that some reports are circulating already of whole towns being gone as a result of the tsunami, and that damage from the quake is likely to be extensive despite all the preparations. I've experienced the sang-froid the Japanese have towards earthquakes first hand, and that it has slipped as much as it has says much.
Thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan. One hopes that the five-sided puzzle palace is already looking at what assets may be in the area that can help, and that our administration is already putting forth offers of assistance.
In a different type of thoughts and prayers effort, if you are in the Seattle area, please help:
This young lady is missing, and her family is very concerned and wants her back safe and sound. If you see her, have any information, or can help in other ways, please contact the local police and help them out. Thoughts and prayers could be used here too.
UPDATE: The initial reports I got early this morning were obviously a bit wrong in regards the nuclear power plants. I am hoping that reports things are now under control with the cooling issue are correct. Meantime, the death toll is growing and I suspect/fear it will grow significantly. Glad to hear that we are moving assets into play, and hope that all the formalities move swiftly so we can help.
UPDATE II: About everything being under control at both nuke plants, apparently not quite completely. That said, knowing a little about nuke plants (thank you NSF!) and safety systems, a "China Syndrome" is not yet likely. Expect the pants-wetters to scream about the pressure releases, but they really are pretty much SOP (and harmless if all is as seems to be according to the science backchannels) in a situation like this. There is also a failsafe cooling system that can and will kick in if needed. Biggest problem seems to be that an emergency generator failed, eliminating needed power for cooling. This is why they are and should be tested on a regular basis, and I am going to be very interested in why it failed. Suspect anyone involved with safety and/or emergency preparedness will be, to be honest... Also, not sure what State is babbling about in terms of emergency coolant being on the way via the Air Force, it frankly doesn't make a lot of sense (resisting comments here). If the Japanese can get power to the cooling system, they can deal with the heat issue and all really will be good. If not, it should still be good if all the redundancies work as planned. We can hope...
Meantime, the extent of the death and devastation grows. Thoughts and prayers need to increase too.