Aftershocks Rock Japan in Wake of Major Quake

March 14, 2011; 8:16 AM
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Hundreds of powerful aftershocks are continuing to rock northeastern Japan in the wake of Friday's devastating major earthquake.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) website, more than 400 aftershocks, all centered near the epicenter of Friday's quake east of Honshu, are occurring several times each hour.

A large percentage have been of magnitude 5.0 or higher, enough to cause significant trembling across the nearby mainland, where rescue efforts continue in towns and cities decimated by tsunami waves.

A plot of aftershocks in northeastern Japan through early Monday morning following the main earthquake. (USGS/Google Maps).

On Sunday, the Japan Meteorological Agency upgraded the magnitude of Friday's earthquake to a 9.0, while the USGS magnitude of 8.9 remained unchanged.

The death toll is already staggering, above 1,000, with officials fearing that hundreds more bodies will be found in the days to come.

Fortunately, tsunami warnings have long expired across the Pacific including in Hawaii and the United States, but wave heights remain elevated along the eastern coast of Japan with aftershocks ongoing.

Additional threats on land continue, with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant emitting radiation. Thousands nearby have been evacuated with the threat of a meltdown looming.

Wrecked ships, houses and debris float in the sea in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, Sunday, March 13, 2011 after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake hit its eastern coast on Friday. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

Winds blowing offshore will continue to help push some of the radiation out over the Pacific Ocean on Monday, according to Meteorologist Meghan Evans.

Evans also indicates that a storm that will impact Sendai by Tuesday could hamper search and rescue efforts.

Unfortunately, aftershocks will continue for days as is often the case in the wake of powerful earthquakes.


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