Aftershocks Rock Japan Following Earthquake And Tsunami, Could Hamper Recovery Efforts

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The 8.9-magnitude earthquake that rattled the island nation on Friday leveled buildings, crushed cars and killed hundreds, if not thousands of people.

An elderly woman is rescued from a residence at Kesennuma, Japan on Saturday following the devastating earthquake. Experts said strong aftershocks could hamper the recovery effort.  Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/2011/03/12/2011-03-12_aftershocks_rock_japan_following_earthquake_and_tsunami_could_hamper_recovery_ef.html#ixzz1GQy1BIYh

Japan might not stop shaking for years.

The 8.9-magnitude earthquake that rattled the island nation on Friday leveled buildings, crushed cars and killed hundreds, if not thousands of people. And some experts say tremor's aftershocks could make it a whole lot worse and continue for years.

Japan has already experienced hundreds of aftershocks since Friday's quake, including 26 that have had a magnitude of 6 or greater, according to the latest data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

"You could get a large aftershock years later," John Bellini, a geophysicist at USGS told the Daily News though the majority are expected to decrease in frequency and magnitude in the days and weeks to come.

He said those living in Chile and Indonesia still feel aftershocks from earthquakes in 2010 and 2004, respectively.

The aftershocks could also hamper relief workers' efforts to search and rescue victims, many of whom are suspected of being buried under rubble.

"It all depends on the damage of the building that's being worked on. Concrete buildings could injury rescue people but the smaller buildings won't take a long time to be searched."

Dr. Marcia McNutt, director of the USGS, told CBS' "The Early Show" that the "aftershocks themselves could bring down buildings that have already been stressed by the main shock itself"

Bellini said he wouldn't be surprised to see another earthquake aftershock in the 7s or 8s following an earthquake as large as Friday's.

Most of the aftershocks on Saturday were in the mid- to upper 4s, while Friday's were in the mid- to upper 5's. In Japan, anything with a 4 or higher can generally be felt, said Bellini.

While the aftershocks will get weaker as time goes on, they're unnerving for those in Japan trying to piece their lives back together, said McNutt.

It's not "just the five minutes of shaking from this earthquake, but it keeps going on and on and on, in terms of disrupting the lives of not only the citizens, but the relief workers," she said adding that "it keeps going on for literally years afterwards, disrupting lives."

Source: New York Daily News