A massive earthquake and subsequent tsunamis struck Japan today, devastating property and killing hundreds. The 8.9-magnitude quake hit 230 miles east of Tokyo and is the largest the country has seen in over a century. Tsunamis rose up to 33 feet tall. The disaster left many technology companies scrambling in the wake. Although the amount of damage is still unknown, many firms have reported their initial losses.
Sony evacuated six factories in the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan. At least one facility that manufacturers Blu-ray discs and magnetic tapes was flooded. Panasonic's three-year-old EV Energy manufacturing plant in Sendai is believed to have been leveled. Several employees at Panasonic's three factories in Miyagi and Fukushimi have sustained minor injuries, according to a company spokesperson.
Sharp, Sanyo, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and many other companies have ceased operations in various locations and begun damage assessments. At least one Honda employee was killed after a wall collapsed at a research and development center in Tochigi, while 30 others were injured. Samsung and Canon were more fortunate than others as both say the disaster will have little to no effect on production.
The full extent of damage won't be recognized for weeks or longer. Outside of property losses and fatalities, the impact of halting output could be enormous, causing worldwide shortages in the automotive and other industries. Shares for Toyota and Sony have fallen 2.43% and 2.36% on the New York Stock Exchange as traders buy put options in case of a prolonged shutdown in automotive production.
Our sincerest condolences go out to all those affected by the catastrophe. If you'd like to pitch in, you can text "REDCROSS" to 90999 (30333 for Canadians) to donate $10 to the Red Cross. PayPal has also launched a relief effort allowing users to freely send money to any US 501(c)(3) and Canada Revenue Agency registered charities raising funds to aid Japan. This will last from today through April 10, 2011.