**Update 4 (13/03 11.00 am)** The first rumours of a confirmed meltdown at Fukushima are coming through.
**Update 3 (13/03 09.30 am)** Things continue to be fine in Tokyo, although rolling blackouts are scheduled from tomorrow as there are so many power stations off line. We’re getting an uptick in the number of quakes we feel here and I think it’s because they’re moving South towards Tokyo (and equally North towards Hokkaido of course) as the stress equalises along the fault. The absolute magnitude continues to reduce though. [Correction: apparently that's not how earthquakes work, frequency goes down but not magnitude.]
In the North, however, the situation is far rom ok. The death toll is listed as ~1700, but another ~8000 are listed as missing. Meanwhile, the situation at the Fukushima power plants is worsening and engineers are now using their solution of last resort, which is pumping in sea water to cool the most critical reactor. At least two other reactors are in states of emergency (a technical term which isn’t as scary as it sounds) and a melt down is starting to look very difficult to avoid and may in fact already be underway (not that that has been even mentioned in the press of course). However, this plant is a very different design to Chernobyl and a fire and leak of that scale is very unlikely indeed while prevailing winds are blowing any contaminated air offshore.
I still think it’s important that we remember countries like Haiti and Libya in a situation like this because while Japan does have the resources and external support to cope, their suffering is obscured by the latest news. However, as the scale of the destruction becomes clearer, there are people here who need urgent help and if you would like to donate, the link to do so is here: http://www.redcross.org.uk/japantsunami/?approachcode=68861_blogjapan
**Update 2 (12/03 1 pm)** Home safe. No damage to my apartment. The news reports are harrowing: the tsunami has washed whole towns away, but life in Tokyo is rapidly returning to normal. A few shops are shut, several train lines are still out of action, there’s not much food on the shelves (I’m fine, I have emergency supplies against this eventuality, so I shan’t starve) and we may have rolling power cuts later so as to send spare power to the North where their power stations are offline. We are expecting further aftershocks and there was another major quake 80 miles North of here overnight that may or may not have been connected to the first one, but Japan is well prepared for this sort of thing and rescue and cleanup operations are well underway.
If you want to help financially – don’t. Japan is a first world country with a lot of international help, if you want to send money, send it to a country that needs it more, like Libya.
**Update (11/03 7.30 pm)** JR have announced that they will not be resuming service today, so it looks as though I’m stuck here for tonight. I have accommodation though, and someone to cook for me, so just a minor inconvenience all things considered. Things are much worse elsewhere and the current death toll is around 250.
(11/03 ~5.00 pm) Here’s the gen for those of you who are worried: there was a very large Earthquake but it was about 250 miles away and so, although a bit disturbing, the damage in Tokyo is minor. There are a few fires and the phones and transport links are down and we’re still getting aftershocks every few minutes but there’s no damage where I am. The Tsunami is due to reach us in about 20 mins, but it’s not going to be very big in Tokyo – probably not even detectable. I am a long way inshore and out of danger.
Stand down, AOK