Sunday, August 9, 2009

Strong Earthquake Tonight...

Just before 8PM tonight, I was settled down, watching From the Earth to the Moon on channel 901 when I felt a shimmy, a slight trembling. My bed tends to do this when strong winds rock the building, or when traffic is particularly heavy outside in the street, or when I shift my weight. This vibration continued for a seconds despite my keeping as still as I possibly could. I put my right foot on the floor to feel if the entire building might be moving...


So imagine my surprise at checking MSN and finding out an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.9 had shaken Tokyo.

That's the thing about earthquakes-- when you feel them ever so slightly in your home, you can never be sure if someone elsewhere isn't getting the ride of their lives. The first time I felt an earthquake here in Japan, it spelled death for people in Niigata. And I'm on summer vacation this week. One of my favorite vacation activities is checking into a business hotel in Ikebukuro and exploring all over Tokyo. For some reason (laziness), I didn't do that this year but I probably would've been there tonight otherwise.

Coincidentally, the From the Earth to the Moon episode I watched was the final one, dealing with Apollo 17. That's the flight geologist-astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt flew on to study the moon's geology and to bring back samples of its bedrock and proof of possible lunar volcanic activity.

While there's no word on damage or injuries in Tokyo tonight, we can only hope for the best.

Update: Another news source has the quake's magnitude at 7.1.

Second Update: CNN also pegs the quake's magnitude at 7.1 and reports there's no information about damage or injuries so far. Right now, TV broadcasting seems normal, so despite its strength the quake may not have had too much an immediate effect. Here's hoping we lucked out.

Third Update: The quake temporarily stopped the trains (including the shinkansen) and a baseball game between the Yokohama Bay Stars and our own local favorites Chunichi Dragons. If those continued, then we must be in pretty good shape. That's a huge relief. We have earthquakes in Georgia but only about every 150 years or so and I slept right through the one in my lifetime. So I take this quake stuff very seriously.

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