Tsunami Ghost Ship

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After a rusty “ghost ship” was spotted last week by off the coast of Haida Gwaii, Canadian authorities have now officially confirmed that debris from the March 2011 Japanese tsunami is approaching Canadian waters.

“It’s been drifting across the Pacific for a year, so it’s pretty beat up,” said marine search co-ordinator Jeff Olsson of Victoria’s Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre.

Air crews swooped down to survey the decks and signal any potential occupants — but received no replies. Canadian authorities used the vessel’s hull numbers to track down its Japanese owner, who confirmed nobody was aboard. “We know nobody’s in danger,” Mr. Olsson said.

The vessel, a squid-fishing boat, was moored at the Japanese port city of Hachinohe when the tsunami hit. Spotted by a routine coastal air patrol, the 45-metre ship was found drifting right-side-up about 260 kilometres from Cape Saint James on the southern tip of Haida Gwaii (formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands), off the coast of British Columbia.

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Japan Travel Warning

I get updates from the US Embassy and because I have so many friends and colleagues who live and work in Tokyo I thought I should pass this on….
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This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated March 21, 2011. In response to the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Department of Energy, and other technical experts in the U.S. Government have reviewed the scientific and technical information they have collected from assets in country, as well as what the Government of Japan has disseminated. Consistent with the NRC guidelines that would apply to such a situation in the United States, we continue recommending, as a precaution, that U.S. citizens within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant evacuate the area or take shelter indoors, if safe evacuation is not practical.

On March 16, the State Department authorized the voluntary departure from Japan of eligible family members of U.S. government personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, the U.S. Consulate in Nagoya, the Foreign Service Institute Field School in Yokohama and the prefectures of Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Iwate, Miyagi, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizouka, Tochigi, Yamagata, and Yamanashi. U.S. citizens should defer all travel to the evacuation zone around Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and to areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

For the latest U.S. Government information on the situation in Japan, please visit the Embassy website, http://japan.usembassy.gov.

U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to the following regions: Tokyo (Tokyo Capital Region), Yokohama (Kanagawa Prefecture), and the prefectures of Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Iwate, Miyagi, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Tochigi, Yamagata, and Yamanashi.

Areas of Japan outside these above regions of concern include: the islands of Hokkaido, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa, and the prefectures Aichi, Fukui, Gifu, Hiroshima, Hyogo, Ishikawa, Kyoto, Mie, Nara, Okayama, Osaka, Shiga, Shimane, Tottori, Toyama, Wakayama, and Yamaguchi on the island of Honshu. Travelers to these prefectures should bear in mind that transit through Narita (Chiba) and Haneda (Tokyo) airports may be required.

The Situation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant
The situation regarding the Fukushima nuclear plant remains serious. We strongly encourage you to understand the facts about how to protect your family. Please see our website: http://japan.usembassy.gov.

The U.S. Government is making available Potassium Iodide (KI) solely as a precautionary measure for United States Government personnel and dependents residing within Nagoya (Aichi Prefecture), Tokyo (Tokyo Capital Region), Yokohama (Kanagawa Prefecture), and the prefectures of Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Iwate, Miyagi, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizouka, Tochigi, Yamagata, and Yamanashi. The KI should only be consumed after specific instruction from the United States Government. While there is no indication that it will become advisable to take KI, out of an abundance of caution the United States Government is making it available to its personnel and family members to be used only upon direction if a change in circumstances were to warrant. In the event of a radiological release, sheltering in place or departing the affected area remain the primary means of protection.

As a precautionary measure, the U.S. Embassy is continuing to make potassium iodide (KI) tablets available to private U.S. citizens who have not been able to obtain it from their physicians, employers, or other sources. Anyone considering availing themselves of this opportunity should consult the Embassy website (http://japan.usembassy.gov) for up-to-date information regarding distribution. We do not recommend that anyone take KI at this time. There are risks associated with taking KI. It should only be taken on the advice of emergency management officials, public health officials or your doctor. For more information about KI, see this fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control (http://emergency.cdc.gov/radiation/ki.asp), or contact your doctor.

In the Event of Further Earthquakes, Strong Aftershocks, or Tsunamis
Strong aftershocks are likely for weeks following a massive earthquake such as the March 11 earthquake. The American Red Cross recommends that in the event of aftershocks, persons be alert to the danger of falling debris and move to open spaces away from walls, windows, buildings, and other structures that may collapse. If you are indoors, drop, cover, and hold on; if possible, seek cover under a sturdy desk or table, hold on, and protect your eyes by pressing your face against your arm. If there is no table or desk nearby, sit on the floor against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you. Avoid damaged buildings and downed power lines. Great care should be used with matches, lighters, candles, or any open flame due to the possibility of disrupted gas lines. Due to the continuing possibility of strong aftershocks, Japan remains at risk for further tsunamis. Japanese authorities have issued a warning for people to stay away from low-lying coastal areas. If a tsunami alert is issued by Japanese authorities, evacuate immediately to higher ground. See information on our website, http://japan.usembassy.gov.

Conditions
Commercial flights have resumed at all airports that were closed by the earthquake, except Sendai Airport, and commercial seats are available at the time of this posting. In Tokyo, public transportation including trains and subways are operating. Across Japan, about 90 percent of roads damaged by the tsunami and earthquake have been repaired or made passable, and most restrictions that limited traffic on roads to emergency vehicles have been lifted. Hardships caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami continue to cause severe difficulties for people in areas, including Miyagi, Iwate, Fukushima, and Ibaraki prefectures. Temporary shortages of water and food supplies may occur in areas of Honshu north of Tokyo due to power and transportation disruptions. Restaurants, supermarkets, and other stores in Tokyo have resumed operations.

Planned rolling power outages are decreasing in the Tokyo metropolitan area, but continue in areas in northeast Japan affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

Please monitor the Tokyo Electric Power Company website (http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/index-e.html), and local news media for specific information and schedules for the planned outages. Radio stations in the Tokyo area that have emergency information in English include the U.S. Armed Forces station at 810AM and InterFM (76.1FM).

DC’s National Cherry Blossom Festival pays tribute to Japan

This year, Cherry Blossom Festival organizers have partnered with charities to create giving opportunities for participants interested in offering support to disaster victims in Japan.
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Before the two-week National Cherry Blossom Festival opens Saturday, organizers held a fundraising walk and vigil Thursday evening among the trees for victims of Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami. An estimated 18,000 people have been killed in the disaster.


The flowering trees that symbolize friendship between the United States and Japan are blooming for the 99th time in Washington in the wake of one of the world’s worst natural disasters.

Japanese Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki told the crowd that his country needs help.

“Everything started on what I call 3/11 — earthquake, tsunami and nuclear incident — and we are still struggling,” he said. “This is a very tough fight, but the consolation is people around the world are trying to be with us.” Fujisaki said the U.S. sent one of the first rescue teams and military support.

“Really, we need your assistance, and you’re giving that to us,” he said. After a gathering and moment of silence, the ambassador joined a crowd in walking to the cherry blossom trees along the Tidal Basin, holding glow sticks. Donation bins lined the sidewalk to benefit American Red Cross relief efforts.
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Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District of Columbia in Congress, said the cherry blossoms will be a reminder of Japan’s resiliency. She said the Washington festival also will rally support.

“This year, the cherry blossoms will remind the world to stand for Japan,” Norton said. “It’s important that we’re taking time to reflect,” said festival director Diana Mayhew. The celebration is a symbol of spring each year and now of the rebirth and rebuilding for Japan, she said.

“Our relationship with Japan is at the heart,” she said. Fujisaki told The Associated Press he is grateful for such support from U.S. residents, though he declined to ask for further donations. It’s too soon to know how Japan will pay to rebuild the country as the government is still focused on search and rescue, basic human needs and its nuclear reactors, he said.

“I am very grateful that American people are voluntarily extending their hands,” Fujisaki said. “This is really an impressive show of goodwill.”

Japan Disaster

I knew this day would come again…living in Tokyo I experienced quakes on an almost weekly basis…I also worked in Kobe during the last big quake…but this looks and feels worse…Quake plus Tsunami…I am still checking with friends to see of they are all safe and accounted for…Japan3-4pg-horizontalJapan4-1pg-horizontalJapan4-3pg-horizontalJapan4-5pg-horizontalJapan4-7pg-horizontalJapan4-21pg-horizontal