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Japan Rocked by Massive Earthquake, Tsunami

Published March 11, 2011

TOKYO, Japan (BRAIN)—One of the largest earthquakes ever recorded rocked Japan on Friday. The magnitude-8.9 offshore quake quickly unleashed 23-foot tsunami waves, sweeping away boats, cars and homes, while hundreds of people have been reported dead or missing.

“It is pretty scary watching some of the news feed. From the little feedback that I've received so far there doesn't seem to be any major direct impact on Shimano's offices or manufacturing,” said Devin Walton, Shimano’s public relations manager. Shimano’s offices are located in Osaka, which is 387 miles south of Sendai. The earthquake was centered 80 miles off the coast of Sendai in northwest Japan and struck at 2:46 p.m. local time. More than 50 aftershocks followed, some as strong as 7.4.

“Staff in the building definitely felt the quake as it was occurring, but I haven't heard of any injury or damage. I'm also not aware if there are any issues affecting power, transportation, or materials supply,” Walton added.

Tire supplier Panaracer is also in Osaka, and company spokesperson Jeff Zell, said they appear to have escaped major damage.

“They did shake, but nothing like Tokyo or farther north. The videos are jaw dropping. Mother Nature is a force to be reckoned with,” Zell said.

About 1,300 miles to the southwest in Taiwan, where many have already gathered in preparation for the Taipei International Cycle Show, it was feared that tsunami waves might cause damage to Taiwan’s eastern coastline. However, Taiwan’s transportation and communications minister Mao Chi-Kuo reported that the waves hitting Taiwan’s shores were only 10 centimeters higher than on average, according to the Focus Taiwan News Channel.

“Thank you everybody for the concern for us here in Taiwan—tsunami warning is lifted w/o incident,” ASI’s Tim Jackson tweeted two hours ago.

Taiwan's business sector, however, is likely to feel the ripple effect of the powerful tremblor in the coming days, with some companies benefiting and others suffering, according to the Focus Taiwan News Channel.

Back in Japan, according to CNN, bikes are selling out in Tokyo stores as residents attempt to make their way home.

Meanwhile, much of the west coast of the United States is still under a tsunami watch, although Hawaii seems to have been spared any major damage, which brings a sigh of relief to those in many coastal U.S. areas.

“Our roastery is only about five feet above sea level. Just waiting…” tweeted Mark Ritz, owner of Kinetic Koffee, in Arcata, California, which is located 280 north of San Francisco.

—Jason Norman

—Matt Wiebe

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