Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Earthquake in Japan: Monster Tsunami

Mar 12, 2011 , STRAITS TIMES


JAPAN TSUNAMI


Monster Tsunami

Hundreds killed after major quake triggered tsunami in Japan

By Kwan Weng Kin, Japan Correspondent

GRAMMAR- Past Tense and Past Perfect tense


TOKYO: A massive tsunami unleashed by the most powerful earthquake on record to hit Japan caused widespread damage across the nation's Pacific coast yesterday, killing hundreds and injuring an untold number.

The wall of water - reports said it was as high as 10m in some parts – 1. _______(toss) large ships around like rubber dinghies, 2. _______(drag) vehicles as if they were toys, and destroyed buildings across a wide area.

The tsunami washed tonnes of debris several kilometres inland and placed large swathes of coastal cities underwater, 3. _______(rip) up highways and downing phone lines. In one episode, the Kyoto news agency said the 4. _______(churn) waves washed away a boat with 100 people aboard.

Late last night, reports began 5. _______(emerge) that a passenger train 6. ______(go) missing in a coastal area. There was no information on the number of people aboard.

Police in the coastal city of Sendai reported finding more than 200 bodies, and 7. ______(dispatch) about dead or missing people continued to trickle in late into the night.

But rescue efforts are just getting under way, and it is likely the final death toll and full extent of devastation will only be known in the coming days.

The magnitude 8.9 quake 8. ________(occur) about 128km off Japan's north-east coast, and triggered tsunami warnings across much of the Pacific Ocean, including as far away as South America.

But as the hours ticked by, that threat 9. ________(recede), with many countries which 10. _______(brace) themselves for inundation reporting that only small waves reached their shores.

Nevertheless, the fear of a repeat of the 2004 tsunami disaster sent thousands in South-east Asia, including Indonesia and the Philippines, 10. _______(rush) inland and towards higher ground.

By late last night, the tsunami, travelling at the speed of a jet aircraft, 12. _______(reach) Hawaii, but was much smaller than feared - waves reached about 30 cm in height - bringing relief to an edgy populace that had endured a night with the sound of warning sirens blaring.

The authorities on the west coast of the United States and elsewhere, however, were still steeling themselves for impact. The waves are projected to make landfall there early this morning.

Japan's Pacific coast fared much worse. As many in the country watched in horror on live TV - an unlikely spectacle made possible by the practice of networks here to switch to quake programming whenever a major one hits - a rolling wall of brackish water gobbled up boats, cars, farmland and highways near the Natori River.

Live pictures also showed the runway at Sendai airport being turned into a river, and another gathering storm offshore heading towards the stricken city.

'I 13. ______(never see) anything like this,' Mr Ken Hoshi, a local government official in Ishinomaki, a port city in Miyagi prefecture where Sendai is located, told Agence-France Presse.

Similar scenes unfolded at dozens of cities and villages along the coast.

In Tokyo, Prime Minister Naoto Kan acknowledged that widespread damage 14. ________(cause) by the tsunami.

Chief government spokesman Yukio Edano told the Associated Press: 'Our initial assessment indicates that there 15. _________(already be) enormous damage.

'We will make maximum relief effort based on that assessment.'

“Offers of help in dealing with the disaster are already pouring in, with Singapore, China and Russia among those offering expertise,” said an official.

In a statement last night, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: 'We are in touch with the relevant Japanese authorities to work out their specific needs.'

US President Barack Obama offered his country's help. The United Nations and European Union also made similar offers.

In contrast to the devastation wrought by the tsunami, the earthquake and as many as 20 aftershocks which followed caused comparatively little damage.

In the immediate aftermath of the temblors, scattered reports of damage surfaced - several fires broke out, and there were reports of houses and other structures collapsing in Ibaraki and other prefectures north of Tokyo, as well as several injuries from falling debris.

There were numerous flight disruptions after airports 16. ____(close), stranding thousands of travellers. But most - except the one at Sendai - were shut down as a precaution, and by early evening many, including Narita, were slowly resuming operations.

The most alarming incident concerned a nuclear power plant whose cooling system developed a fault.

Several such plants near the epicentre of the quake 17. ________(shut down) successfully as a precaution, but the Fukushima No. 1 plant in Onahama city, 270km north-east of Tokyo, developed problems.

Although no leaks were detected, a state of emergency 18. _______(declare), and residents living within a 3km radius of the plant 19. ______(tell) to evacuate.

In Tokyo, the most serious incident appeared to be the collapse of the roof in a hall where a graduation ceremony 20. ________(hold), injuring students.

VOCABULARY

Widespread panic, however, gripped millions, who left their offices and rushed out onto the streets in search of safety.

Trains also ground to a 1. ________, stranding thousands of commuters.

Many homes were left without power and water in the greater Tokyo area.

The 2. ________ caused lifts to automatically stop moving all across the capital, forcing many companies to call it a day earlier than usual.

Earthquakes in Japan, which sits within the so-called Pacific 'Ring of 3. _______', are fairly commonplace, although the vast majority are weak tremors.

Still, the country is well-drilled in responding to quakes, and strict building codes and other steps have made it widely regarded as possibly the nation best 4. ________for natural disasters of this sort.

But the damage this time to Japan's economic infrastructure is likely to derail the country's nascent economic recovery.

Huge amounts of 5. _______ needed for the reconstruction of quake-hit areas are likely to add to Japan's already soaring public debt, which is close to 200 per cent of its gross domestic product.

'This is certainly the worst thing that can happen in Japan at the worst time,' Mr Nouriel Roubini, the economist who predicted the global financial crisis, told Bloomberg Television.

'There will be fiscal stimulus to reconstruct but Japan already has a budget deficit of close to 10 per cent' of gross domestic product and an ageing population.


ANSWERS- Grammar- 1.tossed 2 dragged 3 ripping 4 churning 5 emergency 6 had gone 7 dispatches 8 occurred 9 receded 10 had braced 11 rushing 12 had reached 13 have never seen 14 had been caused 15 has already been 16. Were closed 17 were shut down 18 was declared 19 were told 20 were being held

Vocabulary – 1. Halt 2 vibrations 3 Fire 4 prepared 5 money

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