When an 8.9 magnitude quake struck Japan on March 11, it triggered massive destruction and loss of life. The historic tremor was the strongest quake ever to hit Japan, and the fifth largest to strike any country since 1900. The country’s prime minister has said the crisis is the worst to strike Japan since World War II.
Recovery efforts began immediately to rescue thousands of citizens stranded in debris or swept away in the devastating tsunami that followed the quake. At last count, the death toll stood at 1800 confirmed deaths with an estimate of more than 9,000 still unaccounted for in the worst hit areas of the country. The tsunami brought waves of more than 23 feet in some regions.
Soon, the recovery efforts will move into the rebuilding stage. In the meantime, it is mind-boggling to watch as the country suffers such a blow. The images that reach us are heartbreaking. We watch as the photos and news coverage show entire towns destroyed, buildings crumbled like matchsticks, and villages washed away as a sea of rage sweeps through them.
The country’s problems are compounded by the damage to two nuclear reactors in Japan. Both stricken reactors were flooded with sea water as an emergency action to avoid full meltdowns of the nuclear cores. Japanese officials have said the release of radioactivity outside the plants has been modest, but still measures twice the level Japan considers safe. Massive evacuations of the areas surrounding the plants have continued for days since the tremor first struck.
The earthquake is estimated to be the most expensive quake in history. Early numbers say the total destruction is more than $100 billion. This includes more than $20 billion in damage to residences, $40 billion in damage to infrastructure and the rest comes from damage from fires and the tsunami.
The loss of life can never be recovered and many areas of Japan will never be the same. But as business continuity planners, we know there will be rebuilding and it will showcase numerous lessons learned for all of us around the globe.
In this special section, DRJ first wants to acknowledge the horrific loss of life and property that Japan has suffered. Secondarily, we are offering a place for information-sharing and an exploration of how disasters of this magnitude can affect a country on every level: humanitarian, economically, and environmentally.
Continue to check back over the next few days as business continuity experts from around the globe share their thoughts and ideas about the devastation in Japan. This is sure to be a fascinating look into a historic situation and the recovery process that follows.