Mar. 11th, 2011

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On wednesday: 7.9 earthquake hits japan

Japan was struck by a magnitude 7.9 earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, shaking buildings in Tokyo for several minutes and prompting a tsunami warning.

Japan's meteorological agency warned that a tsunami as high as 20 feet (6 meters) could strike the coast near Miyagi prefecture, closest to the epicenter. Smaller tsunamis of up to 50 centimeters reached some coastal communities, the agency said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said a tsunami warning was in effect for Japan, Russia, Marcus Island and the Northern Marianas. A tsunami watch has been issued for Guam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and U.S. state of Hawaii.MORE



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Tanzania Biofuel Project's Barren Promise

BRUSSELS and DAR ES SALAAM, Mar 9, 2011 (IPS/Freereporter) - An ambitious project to produce clean energy for the Netherlands and Belgium has degenerated into a controversial abuse of natural resources in Africa.

Bioshape, a clean energy company based in Neer, the Netherlands, is going through bankruptcy proceedings after spending 9.6 million dollars on a failed biofuel project in Tanzania. In 2006, the company agreed to lease 80,000 hectares of coastal woodland in the southern district of Kilwa to grow jatropha, a shrub whose seeds contain an oil that can be processed into green fuel.

Bioshape planned to employ thousands of local farmers and export seeds from Tanzania to the Netherlands, where they would be processed to produce electricity, heat and biodiesel. Jatropha is one of the preferred feedstocks for fuel produced from plant material. Commonly called biofuel - agrofuel to its critics - such fuel is supposed to be less polluting than traditional fossil fuels.Except that they proceeded collude with local authorities to bilk the villagers out of their land

*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
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Still a Ways to Go, After Historic Ruling Against Chevron

QUITO, Feb 16, 2011 (IPS) - The plaintiffs in the case against Chevron tried in Ecuador, who won a historic 9.5 billion dollar verdict after a nearly 18-year struggle over environmental and health damages caused in a quarter-century of oil operations in the Amazon jungle, are not disheartened by the road still ahead.

Chevron announced that it would appeal the sentence handed down Monday by Judge Nicolás Zambrano in Nueva Loja, the capital of the northeastern Ecuadorian province of Sucumbíos, which found the U.S. oil company guilty of an environmental disaster in the Amazon jungle, as locals have been arguing in legal action that began in 1993.

"This was a trial on behalf of the people, and the beneficiaries are not just the (30,000) plaintiffs but all of the inhabitants of the provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana," some 223,000 people, Juan Pablo Sáenz, one of the members of the plaintiffs' legal team, told IPS.MORE



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Deaths reported in China quake see map at link

At least 25 killed and more than 250 injured in earthquake near border with Myanmar.
The epicentre of the 5.4-magnitude quake, which struck at 12:58pm (0458 GMT), was located about 225km west-southwest of Dali in Yunnan province, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported on Thursday.
China Central Television said the quake hit while many people, including students, were home for a customary midday rest. The report said at least two students were among those killed, but didn't give details.
The state broadcaster showed several buildings with concrete foundations that had cracked and buckled.
On Friday, tremors from a separate quake off Japan's Pacific coast could be felt in Beijing, Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan reported. No injuries or damage was immediately reported in China from the massive quake, which has devastated much of northeastern Japan.
CCTV reported that about 100 armed police, firefighters and soldiers were using three excavators to try to rescue a man and a girl trapped inside a four-story building that had partially collapsed in Thursday's quake.MORE




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[personal profile] azuirehas links and commentary including ways to help.

Massive tsunami devastates Japan

Coastline swamped and hundreds dead as biggest quake in centuries sends wave crashing ashore and puts Pacific on alert.


Hundreds of people are dead after one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded struck Japan, triggering a devastating 10-metre-high tsunami along parts of the country's northeastern coastline.

The massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck on Friday afternoon local time, creating gigantic waves which swept away cars, boats, homes and people as the surging water overwhelmed coastal barriers.

Widespread fires burned out of control and Japan's nuclear industry was on alert as reactors shut down automatically as a safety precaution. Millions are reported to be without electricity, airports are closed and public transport in Tokyo and other cities has come to a halt as Japan reels amid the twin devastations.

Police said 200 to 300 bodies have been found in the northeastern coastal city of Sendai where hundreds of buildings have collapsed. Japan's NHK television said the victims appeared to have drowned. Police said another 88 were confirmed killed and 349 were missing.

Thousands of people living near a nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture were ordered to evacuate after the reactor developing a cooling fault. Officials said the move was a precaution and there was no evidence of leaking radiation.

Meanwhile, countries around the Pacific basin are on tsunami alert amid warnings that a wall of water could completely wash over low-lying islands.MORE


Why Japan is prone to earthquakes

Al Jazeera's senior meteorologist Steff Gaulter gives insight into why earthquakes and tsunamis strike the island nation of Japan:

To put the effects of the latest earthquake in Japan in context, it could help to compare it to other recent quakes: the Haiti earthquake was 7.0 magnitude; the Chile one was 8.8 and the New Zealand one was 6.3.

"So, this as an 8.9, bigger than any of those. It is the seventh-most powerful earthquake that has ever been recorded. So we are talking about a massive earthquake there.

The reason for this activity is because of where Japan is situated, on the joint of four different plates.

"So we have got the Pacific plate and the Philippine plate to the east; and to the west, we have got the North America plate and the Eurasian plate. And what is happening is that the Philippine plate and the Pacific plate are heading towards the west; they are going underneath the other two plates and that is what is causing all the problems.MORE
Video too at link


From California to Chile, residents prepare for waves


Nicaragua: The government issued a green alert for the Pacific area, which makes up 427 coastal kilometers and is home to 100,000 people early this morning. The Chief of Civil Defense, Mario Perezcassar mobilized units to the area, though he has not yet ordered evacuation.

(More on TIME.com: See stunning video of the Japan quake)

Ecuador: President Rafael Correa declared a national emergency and ordered evacuation of the entire coastal region as well as the Galápagos Islands, taking a “better safe than sorry” approach. “If nothing happens, then that's great, but we can't take any risks,” Correa told reporters. Ecuador's heavy crude oil pipeline operator suspended oil shipments.

Colombia: Issued an alert, though no evacuation was ordered. Luz Amanda Pulido, the director of the National System for Disaster Attention and Prevention had a higher alert for the four Pacific coastal regions of Chocó, Valle del Cauca, Cauca and Nariño.


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