Discovery Channel's Japan Earthquake Special : May 15

On the afternoon of March 11, Japan was rocked by a series of massive earthquakes that struck the eastern coast. The first, registering a 9.0 on the Richter scale, is the biggest to hit Japan in 140 years.

The earthquakes also resulted in a huge tsunami that travelled at 500 miles an hour, sweeping buildings, vehicles, crops and debris across swaths of farmland. The shockwaves were felt as far away as Beijing, and triggered tsunami alerts in Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Guam, Hawaii and the entire western coast of the US and Canada. 

This May, Discovery Channel recounts the earthquake that hit the northeast of Japan on March 11, and the resulting tsunami, as well as the devastating consequences. MEGAQUAKE: HOUR THAT SHOOK JAPAN explores this most recent Ring of Fire cataclysm in relation to other recent disasters, counting the human, scientific, and global cost that Mother Nature wreaked on one of the most technologically advanced countries on earth. Featuring exclusive new footage, expert interviews, and first person accounts, MEGAQUAKE: HOUR THAT SHOOK JAPAN premieres on Discovery (SKY Channel 070) on May 15 at 7.30pm 

In the one-hour special, Discovery Channel gets to the heart of the story to reveal the critical chain of events that brought one of Asia’s powerhouses to a standstill. Through a scientific approach and expert analyses along with footage filmed by those who experienced the horror firsthand, the programme chronicles the moments when the quake and tsunami struck. Poignant testimonies of those now living as refugees document the eight minutes between the quake and the tidal wave that left massive destruction and loss of lives in its wake. 

By studying the Pacific Ring of Fire – a name given to the region which has been devastated by natural disasters in recent years – MEGAQUAKE: HOUR THAT SHOOK JAPAN assesses whether the Earth’s tectonic plates are in a phase of increased activity, a situation that is likely to result in further seismic events. Through interviews with top US and Japanese seismologists and oceanographers, the documentary will piece together where Mother Nature might strike next. 

The programme also features personal accounts of survivors and eyewitnesses, including a Japanese fire fighter who braved the odds in a nuclear plant, a young American teacher in Sendai who helped to rescue a classroom of children, and personnel from the tsunami warning centre. 

In the aftermath of the disasters, the battle is just beginning in Fukushima in a nuclear crisis that has captured the attention of the world. EMERGENCY IN FUKUSHIMA provides a comprehensive timeline of how a nuclear crisis was triggered after the twin disasters crippled the nuclear reactors in the Fukushima power plant on the northern coast of Japan. The one-hour special takes viewers behind the scenes of the dramatic, on-going struggle to bring the plant under control and prevent a nuclear meltdown. EMERGENCY IN FUKUSHIMA premieres on May 15 at 8.30pm. 

The Fukushima plant, one of the world’s largest nuclear power stations, is forced to run on batteries after seawater from the tsunami floods its electrical systems. The batteries are the last line of defence as they power the pumps that circulate cool water. Even though the reactors have been shut down, the rods are still at a dangerously high 500 degrees Celsius. If the cooling system shuts down, the rods could overheat and melt. The programme follows the efforts of the Japanese engineers and workers as they scramble to avert a full meltdown that could lead to a catastrophic release of highly radioactive material into the environment.

As the workers valiantly struggle to stabilize the plant, no one can say yet what will happen to the people who call Fukushima home. Will fishermen ever return to reap the bounty of the sea? How long will farmland be abandoned? What will the disaster mean for people whose way of life has been tied to this land for generations? Tune in to EMERGENCY IN FUKUSHIMA to find out how the future of the region depends on the efforts of the brave nuclear plant workers who must overcome enormous challenges to contain a potential nuclear meltdown.

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