WASHINGTON/Tokyo: The earthquake that sent a devastating tsunami barrelling into Japan two years ago on Monday was so big it could be heard from space, a study has said.
A specially fitted satellite circling the Earth was able to detect the ultra-low frequency sound waves generated by the massive shift in the planet’s crust, when the 9.0-magnitude quake struck.
Nearly 19,000 people died because of the tsunami it caused, which crushed settlements and swamped the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, sparking meltdowns that displaced tens of thousands of people.
“The atmospheric infrasounds following the great Tohoku earthquake... induced variations of air density and vertical acceleration of the GOCE platform,” said a report in the US-published journal Geophysical Research Letters.
In Ishinomaki, people all over Japan bowed their heads in silence as they remembered the victims.
Ceremonies were held in towns and cities throughout the disaster zone and in Tokyo, where Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko led tributes to the victims.
Akihito said: “I am always deeply moved by seeing how so many people lead their daily lives without complaining... and hope.... to be able to share their suffering, if only a little.”
Police in Miyagi prefecture were continuing their search for those still listed as missing, with a 50-strong team scouring the coastline. “We haven’t found any bodies for a year,” they said.
“But there are still 1,300 missing people in Miyagi alone and the feelings of families haven’t changed. That’s why the police need to keep looking for remains.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of people affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis filed a class action lawsuit, demanding greater efforts to clean up the contaminated region.
Some 800 plaintiffs filed the case with the Fukushima District Court, demanding 50,000 yen ($520) a month each from the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co until the area is restored. The plaintiffs are mostly from Fukushima, but include some residents of neighbouring prefectures. AGENCIES