One hour after the 8.9 earthquake near the coast of Honshu, Japan, happened on Friday, March 11, 2011, I was online and saw tweets about the earthquake come in rapidly. It was like a very bad nightmare especially when I turned to the English channel of Aljazeera which was a channel of choice for a number of my Twitter followers. I briefly headed to two other news channels, but the Aljazeera one seemed to have the best coverage.
Following the news as well as the tweets about the earthquake, the ensuing tsunami and its risk for other countries in the Pacific, I realized that the old saying of “being glued to the TV” could be re-worded into “being glued to Twitter”. It was the fastest source of information – primary and secondary. The NZ Civil Defense web site could not cope with the massive amount of people accessing their site to find out if NZ was in danger because according to the projected arrival time of the tsunami in NZ we would have 12 hours to prepare for it. They moved to Twitter quite quickly to give at least brief updates. I could also find out about an acquaintance who lives on Oahu in Hawai’i because she was glued to Twitter as well and responded quickly. And as you could not watch all news at once, somebody might have a piece of information that had not yet made it into the news you were watching.
The computer-generated tsunami arrival times map available on the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Information site shows the estimated times till the tsunami waves would hit other parts in the Pacific Ocean. The wave was very closely monitored by scientists and updates were given when available about the height of the wave and its force.
The tsunami energy map shows the flow of the released energy of the earthquake. The current estimate is that a total amount of 9,320 gigatons of TNT equivalent, which is 535 million times that of Hiroshima, of energy was released during the earthquake and the tsunami.
Fortunately, the threat to NZ was soon only a marine threat and minor land threat for the upper north island and life in Wellington continued without interruption. It was surreal to have a splendid summer day, and actually splendid summer weekend, when there was such destruction both in Japan and also still in Christchurch. Rebuilding Christchurch will take at least a decade according to estimates and I can’t imagine how much time it will take in Japan where there was much more damage.
My thoughts are with the people in Christchurch and Japan in this horrible time wishing that they have enough energy to survive this tragedy not only re-building their cities, but also re-gaining good emotions.
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