Earthquake and aftershock in Japan

MSNBC is reporting 7 dead and at least 800 wounded:

KASHIWAZAKI, Japan – A strong aftershock rocked Japan on Monday just hours after an earthquake left at least seven dead and caused a radioactive water leak and fire at one of the world’s most powerful nuclear power plants.

The aftershock was measured at 6.6 by the U.S. Geological Survey, which rated the earthquake at 6.7.

It was not clear if the aftershock caused injuries or damage, but the earthquake injured hundreds and turned buildings into piles of lumber.

Earlier, the national broadcaster NHK reported that water containing radioactive material leaked from the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant — the world’s largest — into the Sea of Japan, but that the radioactivity level was low and posed no environmental danger.

The reactor automatically shut down at the time of the leak, the report said. The quake triggered a fire at an electrical transformer at the plant, but plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said earlier in the day that the reactor was not damaged.

Kashiwazaki is hardest hit

The earthquake, which left fissures 3 feet wide in the ground along the coast, hit shortly after 10 a.m. local time and was centered off Niigata state. Buildings swayed 160 miles away in Tokyo. Sirens wailed in Kashiwazaki, a city of about 90,000, which appeared to be hardest hit.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency measured the quake at a 6.8 magnitude.

ST reader forest hunter has noted here before that he is in Japan. I’ve emailed him but have not heard back from him as of yet. Please keep him, his family, and the many many others who have been affected by this earthquake in your thoughts and prayers.

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