On March 11th a massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake occurred near the northeastern coast of Japan, creating extremely destructive tsunami waves which hit Japan just minutes after the earthquake, and triggering evacuations and warnings across the Pacific Ocean. The earthquake and tsunami have caused extensive and severe damage in Northeastern Japan, leaving thousands of people confirmed dead, injured or missing, and millions more affected by lack of electricity, water and transportation. In the wake of the tsunami, the death toll continues to rise and rescuers are hoping to locate the thousands still missing.  Watch video of the tsunami below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3AdFjklR50

Another cause for concern, systems failed at the Fukushima nuclear power plant after they were hit by the tsunami, cutting off power to the cooling systems of the six reactors onsite.  Engineers at the plant have been struggling to cool reactors at the site, as the power plant has been rocked by a series of explosions and fires, thought to be caused by hydrogen gas vented in a bid to relieve high pressure in the reactors.

 

Leaks at the plant prompted the evacuation of thousands of people from a 12-mile radius around the site, and instructions for many more in a wider area to stay indoors. Concern has shifted from the reactors themselves to ponds in 2 of the units which used nuclear fuel is being stored under many meters of water, which have been damaged, possibly by one of the explosions.

Helicopters have been flying in water and water cannons have been used in a bid to cool the pools, keep the fuel covered and prevent more radiation escaping.  While experts say this is no Chernobyl, the lasting effects of a meltdown can be devastating. 

So as the world watches, workers race to avoid a meltdown and anymore casualties from this disaster that will surely be remembered for years to come.  

UNICEF has started a fund to help aid children affected by the disaster.  Click on the following link to make a donation.  www.unicefusa.org/japan

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