Friday's earthquake is largest ever to hit Japan: Australian expert

17:30, March 11, 2011      

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The 8.9-magnitude earthquake which ravaged Japan and sparked a tsunami is the largest quake to ever hit the country, an Australian expert said on Friday.

A massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit Japan on Friday, unleashing a 10-meter high tsunami that did extensive damage. One person is confirmed dead but the toll is expected to rise steeply.

According to Kevin McCue, a seismologist and adjunct professor at Central Queensland University based in Canberra of Australia, seven earthquakes over magnitude eight had rocked Japan since 1891.

A 7.9-magnitude earthquake had killed 147,00 people in 1923, but McCue said the massive 8.9-magnitude quake on Friday superseded all of the previous quakes.

"Our expectation is that many people will be killed and there will be extensive damage," McCue said in a statement released on Friday.

"Fortunately for Tokyo it's a bit further north than the great Kanto (1923) earthquake was, which means the damage in Tokyo is likely to be much less."

McCue said a Pacific-wide tsunami has been generated and would impact other countries in the north pacific in coming hours.

A tsunami warning is in place for Japan, Russia, Marcus Island, the Northern Mariana Islands, China's Taiwan, Guam, and Wake Island.

A tsunami watch is in place for the Philippines, Marshall Islands, Belau, Midway Islands, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae, Indonesia, Guam, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Johnston Island, Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Hawaii.

Despite the wide range of the Pacific center's warning, Australian Bureau of Meteorology at 16:46 (AEDT) on Friday confirmed that there is no tsunami threat for Australia.

Meanwhile, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has urged Australians in Japan in need of help to call its consular emergency line, and urged Australians to follow the instructions of local authorities.

Co-director of the Australian Tsunami Research Center, Professor James Goff said the earthquake would test Japan's building code, tsunami warning system and evacuation plans.

"Japan has a rigorous earthquake building code and excellent tsunami warning system and evacuation plans," he told Australia Associated Press on Friday. "This event will likely provide a severe test for all of them."

Source: Xinhua

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