Three days after a devastating earthquake unleashed a tsunami in which at least 10,000 people are feared dead, Japan on Sunday faced a deepening nuclear crisis and the prospect of another very powerful quake.
The prime minister, Naoto Kan, called the disaster "Japan's most severe crisis since the war ended 65 years ago". He called on the country to unite and said its future would be decided by the response to this crisis.
The threat of further seismic shifts and tsunami is far from over. As rescue teams from more than 70 countries and tens of thousands of Japanese troops descended on the disaster zone, meteorological agency officials warned there was a 70% chance of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake striking the region in the next three days. "There will be many aftershocks in multiple locations. We have to brace ourselves for aftershocks of magnitude 5 or even magnitude 6," an agency official said.
The meteorological agency upgraded last Friday's earthquake, the fifth biggest in the world for a century, from magnitude 8.8 to 9.0. What began as a violent seismic shift lasting minutes has left a permanent geological legacy: the US geological survey said the force of the quake had shifted the island a distance of 8ft (2.5 metres).Justin McCurry, reporting for The Guardian, 13 March 2011.
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(I can't get this description of a tsunami out of my head.)