Four people were killed and more than three hundred injured by a major earthquake in Osaka, Japan on Monday. The quake struck at 7:58 AM, during rush hour, and measured a 6.1 in magnitude. Osaka is the third largest city in Japan by population (after Tokyo and Yokohama) and the land is highly developed. The construction codes require earthquakes to be considered, which likely limited the damage and death toll, but there are still more than 1,100 residents taking refuge in just over 460 evacuation centers. (Japan Times)
Power and gas lines were knocked out, air travel was restricted, and train activity was stopped. By the end of the day, however, inspections and repairs had been effected and transportation had been re-established.
Three of the dead were in their 80s; a woman, aged 81, whose wardrobe fell onto her at her home; an 85-year-old man who had a similar fatal encounter with a bookcase at his home; and an 80-year-old who died underneath a collapsing wall on the city streets. The fourth, however, drew the most attention.
From the Asahi Shimbun:
Also in Takatsuki, a concrete wall at an elementary school fell onto the street, killing 9-year-old Rina Miyake as she walked to the school. NHK showed the collapsed upper half of the high wall, which was painted cheerfully with flowers, trees and blue sky and surrounded the school swimming pool.
Mayor Takeshi Hamada apologized over her death because of the wall’s collapse. The city acknowledged that the wall did not meet building safety codes. The structure was old and made of concrete blocks–a known risk in earthquakes. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga ordered the education ministry to conduct nationwide safety checks of concrete block structures at public schools.
Officials are warning of expected aftershocks which could measure as high as 6.0.
Hawaii’s Big Island, however, has been experiencing continued issues. On Monday evening, an explosive eruption from Kilauea triggered a 5.3 magnitude earthquake. While that would normally be upsetting, locals have more pressing concerns. The Hawaiian Civil Defense organization is reporting the number of homes lost has climbed to 533. (Hawaii News Now)
The lava, originally a minor concern, has grown into an ongoing major problem. The flow has increased, growing hotter and thus more fluid… and moving more quickly, about 200 yards per hour, as a result. (USA Today)
The US Geological Survey is keeping track of the problem, and issuing warnings about the lava. They continue to list one of the greatest concerns as laze:
The ocean entry is a hazardous area. Venturing too close to an ocean entry on land or the ocean exposes you to flying debris from sudden explosive interaction between lava and water. Also, the lava delta is unstable because it is built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand. This loose material can easily be eroded away by surf, causing the new land to become unsupported and slide into the sea. Additionally, the interaction of lava with the ocean creates “laze”, a corrosive seawater plume laden with hydrochloric acid and fine volcanic particles that can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs.
There is, as yet, no indication the the lava release is slowing down or stopping.