Events like a magnitude-8.9 earthquake and the
possibility of multiple nuclear meltdowns have a way of making one feel
Just ask Tamaki Nagahama.
The St. Matthew’s Veterinary School student is finishing
her final school term in Cayman half a world away from family and friends in
Japan. Friends are providing minute-by-minute online updates about quakes,
“You feel bad just living a normal life, watching this
suffering,” Ms Nagahama, 26, told the Caymanian Compass on Saturday. “It is
frustrating.” An explosion at a nuclear power plant on Japan’s devastated coast
destroyed a building Saturday and raised fears of leaking radiation, or even a
meltdown, barely more than a day after the catastrophic magnitude-8.9
earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Officials insisted there was no significant
radioactive leak after the explosion. Two other reactors automatically shut
down and lost cooling functions necessary to keep fuel rods working properly
due to power outage from the quake.
The quake registered as the largest in Japan’s recorded
history just after it struck
around 3pm Friday.
“It is like watching the movie Deep Impact,” said local
funds administrator Minori Honda, who has a home in the Tokyo suburbs but lives
and works in Cayman. “I can’t believe it’s really happening.
“I called my mom [Friday] morning,” he said. “My families
are OK.”Ms Nagahama, whose family lives on Japan’s western coast in Kobe, said
everyone was also fine there. She had heard from most of her friends in Tokyo
She was 11 years old when the massive 1995 earthquake
struck Kobe and remembers the devastation caused. But Friday’s quake spawned
waves up to 23 feet high that moved as far as six miles inland, far worse than
anything caused in the ’95 quake. “It’s such bad timing,” she said. “It was the
middle of the day, with lots of people around. It’s really scary.”
The nuclear crisis intensified Sunday as authorities
raced to combat the threat of multiple reactor meltdowns, and more than 170,000
people evacuated the quake- and tsunami-savaged northeastern coast where fears
spread over possible radioactive contamination.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Sunday that a
hydrogen explosion could occur at Unit 3 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear