Oct 26, 2004

Chuetsu, 3 days later

Since my friend Safety Neal frequently makes references to Wikipedia articles, I've taken to browsing the site periodically. Yesterday I was pleased to see a page already in progress on the Chuetsu Earthquake, or series of earthquakes, that shook much of Honshu last Saturday. By today, the article had been updated again to reflect the latest casualty numbers.

(On a side note: while Wikipedia impresses me as a near-real-time public deposit of information, the fact that anyone can edit content opens it up to the potential of becoming a source of great disinformation. This is a minor example, but in the Chutesu article in question, the number left homeless by the quake is fewer than in the most recent news reports, but the figure for fatalities is four higher than anything I've seen. Where will lazy high school students of the 21st century go for last-minute help with that research paper?)

Anyway, between the extraordinarily long string of typhoons and the Chuetsu Earthquake, Japan sure is getting slapped around by Mother Nature this year. Fortunately, the number of deaths is far lower than in the Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 - possibly because rain and other factors have kept post-quake fires to a minimum. But the sheer intensity and suddenness of the tremors caused the first ever derailment of the Shinkansen, or bullet train, while carrying passengers.

Images from Japan Times and Yahoo News. Look here for more on the derailment and Shinkansen safety system.

Tens of thousands of people are temporarily living in school gymnasiums and makeshift shelters, and many of the train lines and highways in Niigata prefecture are closed indefinitely. And with vegetable prices sky-high after the last typhoon, delivering food supplies to evacuees has proven to be a logistical nightmare.

Residents in Ojiya, Niigata Prefecture, take shelter at a makeshift evacuation center on Tuesday after strong earthquakes hit northern Japan on Saturday. More than 100,000 exhausted survivors of Japan's deadliest earthquake in a decade woke up in makeshift shelters for a third day on Tuesday as rain threatened to hamper relief efforts and trigger further landslides. (image and text from MDN

Residents in Ojiya walk past an overturned car after a strong earthquake on Saturday night. (image and text from MDN

At home in Tokyo, we felt pretty strong tremors from the first three quakes on Saturday - the first one lasting more than 10 seconds. I was sitting on the toilet at the time, actually my second such experience in Japan. Not where I want to be when the Great Tokyo Earthquake hits.


At 10/26/2004 9:45 PM, Blogger Safety Neal said...

I do like Wikipedia. And the librarian in me approves your sceptical attitude towards its information. In our jargon, you are information literate.

I like Wikipedia as a blogger because it gives me a quick reference that allows readers to follow my references. And it is amazingly current at times, as you point out.

I also think it's an interesting experiment in interactive, multi-lingual education.


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