SYDNEY – A massive earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale has hit Japan. At least 60 people are confirmed dead and hundreds are unaccounted for. The quake struck just under 400 kilometres (250 miles) northeast of Tokyo, the US Geological Survey said. It was followed by more than a dozen aftershocks, one as strong as 7.1.
The quake created a tsunami which sent a wall of water 10 metres high inland, and devastating coastal communities. Telecommunications in Japan are crippled as millions attempt to use a system affected by the tremor. Nuclear power plants have shut down and some residents have been evacuated from surrounding areas.
All of Tokyo’s suburban train network has been brought to a standstill, stranding hundreds of thousands of workers in the city. The airport is also closed with flights cancelled and no inbound services. The 8.8 magnitude is Japan’s largest and one of the top 5 quakes recorded in the last 100 years.
What to Do
Each time one is felt, drop, cover, and hold on.
Check yourself first for injuries and get first aid if necessary before helping injured or trapped persons.
Assess your home or workplace for damage. If the building appears unsafe get everyone out. Use the stairs, not an elevator, and when outside, watch out for fallen power lines or broken gas lines.
Stay out of damaged areas.
Look for and extinguish small fires if it is safe to do so. Fire is a significant hazard following earthquakes.
Listen to the radio for updated emergency information and instructions.
Do not overload phone lines with non-emergency calls.
Help people who require special assistance – infants, elderly people, those without transportation, families who may need additional help, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them.
What is happening to me and who do I call?
It is important to remember that the situation you are in can be extremely stressful.
Call home and your country’s Consulate or Embassy to let them know where you are, if you are alright and if you need any assistance.
Keeping an item of comfort nearby, such as a family photo, favorite music, or religious material, can often offer comfort in such situations.
Call the emergency assistance hotlines should you need immediate attention.