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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Sendai Earthquake

Sendai Earthquake.

The Sendai Miyagi region of nothern Japan was today rocked by a powerful earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter Scale. The quake was felt as far away as the capital Tokyo with tall buildings swaying for a full minute in the powerful tremor.

40 people were injured in the earthquake marked by unusually strong horizontal motion.

Even here in Tokyo it was felt as a fairly substantial earthquake, remarkable less for its violence than for its length and its motion. Once it started - almost imperceptibly - it just kept going. Sitting at my desk at work I looked around and caught the eye of one or two workmates looking back at me equally quizzically. Was it an earthquake? And in the space it took to ask, it gradually picked up pace and got going.

It can only be described as exactly like being at sea - like riding a series of swells. While not at all violent in Tokyo, it was big, and what was even worse than the actual experience of rocking and rolling around was the fear that it would suddenly tower into something awful and possibly even deadly. The unusual length of time it kept going only heightened this fear. Most earthquakes are over with in about 10 seconds - which, even then, seems like an age. This is by far the most prolonged one I have ever experienced: much longer, for example, than the 1995 quake of 7.3 on the Richter Scale that destroyed Kobe, which I experienced in nearby Osaka.

Once it was over, it was over - so I thought. Here's me, who's never been seasick in my life, about ten minutes after the earthquake was over starting to feel distinctly queasy. I didn't throw up but for half an hour it was touch and go. And judging by the coughs, shuffles, sighs and general signs of discomfort around me, I don't think I was the only one!

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