Learn from Japan’s tragedy

Tragedy seldom comes alone. In the case of Japan, it first took the form of an earthquake that shook the whole country in varying degrees. Within minutes, it was followed by a tsunami that devastated Japan’s northern pacific coast. Then came reports and pictures of serious cooling problems at four nuclear reactors, with fears of partial meltdown in at least two of them. Now, worries of radiation overwhelm the Japanese, who have never experienced the kind of trauma they have  been undergoing for the last three days. The photographs of a flattened airport at Sendai and the tossing of a huge ship, which was finally deposited in the heart of a city center, showed the enormity of the catastrophe that struck the quake-prone nation. Thousands have been killed while many more have been declared as missing.

However, what is most striking about the triple-tragedy is the resilience and understanding with which the people have been squaring up to the nature’s fury. Many of them have lost everything that belonged to them but they have not given up their habit of standing in queues and waiting for their turn. The earthquake-proofing technology used in the construction of multi-storied buildings helped them survive the quake and, thereby, minimize the loss. Japan has one of the most effective tsunami warning systems, but it could not do much as the tidal waves swept the coastal areas within minutes of the under-water quake, giving people little time to reach higher places. On the positive side, it did not take much time for the relief and rescue mission to start with one lakh-strong self-defense force, the largest mobilized since the Second World War, providing the leadership.  Having learnt the lessons of the Kobe earthquake of 1995 when Japan refused to accept foreign help leading to criticism that it resulted in at least 6,000 more deaths, this time there are no such restrictions.

The next few days will reveal whether radiation from the crippled reactors is a greater tragedy than the tsunami. In any case, the fuming reactors represent the worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the erstwhile Soviet Union leaked 25 years ago. For a country like India, which experienced a tsunami a few years ago and which has several nuclear reactors close to the sea coast, the tragedy that has befallen Japan offers many lessons.

Courtesy: Express Buzz

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