150+ whales found beached in Ibaraki, similar to what happened before 2011 Tohoku earthquake

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RocketNews 24:

A little over four years ago, a week before the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, 50 melon-headed whales were found beached in Ibaraki Prefecture, only about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the earthquake’s epicenter.

Now the same omen of bad things to come has happened again. On April 9, about 150 melon-headed whales were found beached in Ibaraki Prefecture. As emergency teams race to save the whales, one thought is sitting in the back of their minds: is this foreshadowing another giant earthquake?

On April 9, more than 150 melon-headed whales (a type of dolphin) were found beached across a stretch of four kilometers (2.5 miles) of shoreline in Hokotashi City, Ibaraki Prefecture. Most of the whales were in critical condition, though the Ibaraki coast guard has been busy returning those still alive to the ocean. The ones that were too weak to be returned were euthanized.

The reason behind the mass beaching is still unknown, but it is suspected to be due to underwater tremors. Since melon-headed whales tend to prefer deeper waters, they would be more sensitive to plate/tectonic changes than other undersea mammals.

This has people worrying about another earthquake on the same or even higher level as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. There is a theory that beached whales are often a sign of undersea tremors, and the severity of the incoming earthquake can be estimated by how many whales are beached. The coast guard reported that while every year some amount of whales are found beached on the shoreline, this incident is by far the most that they have ever encountered.

The city where the beaching took place, Hokotashi City, has started to take emergency measures against the predicted earthquake and tsunami. It is unclear whether the surrounding areas are preparing as well, but they should seriously consider it. To all our readers in the area, be safe and stay alert for any warnings!

Yahoo! Japan to make disaster relief donation for every person who searches for 3.11 on March 11

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RocketNews 24:

Four years on, the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis that befell Japan’s Tohoku region on March 11, 2011 have very little effect on the day-to-day lives of most people in the country. The rolling blackouts have stopped. Batteries and bottled water are once again readily available. Trains are running, and whole cities aren’t spending hours walking home from work or school.

But while a return to normalcy is a desirable, and ultimately necessary, part of recovery, it’s also important to remember what happened. To stem the forgetfulness that often accompanies the later stages of coping with tragedy, on March 11 Yahoo! Japan will be making a donation to the Tohoku recovery efforts for every person that searches for “3.11” through the company’s search engine.

The Internet provider and portal conducted an identical initiative last year, supplying a total of 25,683,250 yen (approximately US $216,00) to charitable organizations. This year, Yahoo! will be making its donation to the Tohoku Recovery Support Organization (Toholu Fukkou Shien Dantai in Japanese).

A 10-yen donation will be made for each user who searches for “3.11” between midnight and 11:59 p.m. on March 11. To reiterate, the donation is made per user, not per search. Once you’ve searched once, you’ve done your job, so there’s nothing to be gained by repeating the search over and over again.

Instead, Yahoo! would prefer you took the time to read through some of the results that come up, in keeping with the program’s aim of creating a moment in which to think about the places and people’s lives which were so abruptly changed in 2011. The company also plans to release a video with interviews of people from the disaster-struck towns of Ishinomaki, Yamadamachi, and Soma, which are located in Miyazaki, Iwate, and Fukushima Prefectures, respectively. Yahoo! will also be creating a visualization of 3.11-releated searches, similar to the one from 2014

▼ Aside from jishin/地震 (“earthquake”), dengonban/伝言板 (“message board”), yoshin/余震 (aftershock), gienkin/義援金 (“donation”), and gasorin/ガソリン (“gasoline”) are all prominently featured.

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Yahoo! Japan’s search box can be found here.

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Video

Off-road bikes added to Japan’s disaster relief arsenal

In light of emergency vehicles being unable to reach victims of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department has announced the addition of 10 off-road bikes to their force.

The bikes will be used in disaster relief efforts when roads are too difficult to navigate with standard police vehicles. As this is the first time off-road bikes have been used by police forces in Japan, a practice session was held in Tokyo’s Koto Ward on March 25 to mark the occasion.

All 10 of the new bikes and their riders were put through a series of tests.