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Sony, Toyota halt plants as quake damages Japanese factories

By Terje Langeland

Bloomberg News

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 01:16 a.m. HST, Mar 11, 2011



Companies including Sony Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. halted output at plants after an 8.9- magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan, damaging production facilities and causing power outages.

Sony halted and evacuated six factories in northeastern Japan, said Yasuhiro Okada, a spokesman at the Tokyo-based company. He said the company was assessing the impact of power outages and damage to its facilities in the region, which make Blu-ray discs, magnetic heads and batteries.

The quake, Japan's strongest in at least a century, struck at 2:46 p.m. local time 81 miles off the coast of Sendai, north of Tokyo, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The tremor caused a tsunami as high as 33 feet that inundated northern towns and caused buildings to shake violently as far away as Tokyo. At least 26 people were killed by the wave and many were missing, state broadcaster NHK Television said.

Toyota, the world's largest automaker, and its affiliates closed three factories, said Shiori Hashimoto, a spokeswoman in Tokyo. The Toyota City-based carmaker began production at a new plant in Miyagi this year that makes Yaris compact cars and has capacity to make 120,000 vehicles a year.

Honda, Nissan

Honda Motor Co. closed two factories, said Hajime Kaneko, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based carmaker. A 42-year-old male employee was crushed to death by a collapsing wall at a research and development center in Tochigi prefecture and about 30 other employees were injured, Kaneko said.

Nissan Motor Co. closed four factories including car plants in Tochigi and Kanagawa and engine factories in Kanagawa and Fukushima, Mitsuru Yonekawa, a spokesman for the Yokohama-based company, said by phone. Two workers suffered minor injuries, he said.

A refinery on fire outside Tokyo exploded, while nuclear power stations were shut down. Narita airport, Tokyo's main international gateway, was closed and bullet-train services suspended. More than 4 million homes were without power, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

Toyota shares traded in Frankfurt fell as much as 3.8 percent, the biggest intraday decline since Jan. 21, to 30.45 euros as of 10:15 a.m. local time. Honda dropped as much as 4.5 percent and Sony slid as much as 2.5 percent in the German city.

Fuji Heavy

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., the maker of Subaru cars, closed five factories, said Kenta Matsumoto, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based company.

Toyota Boshoku Corp., a Toyota Motor supplier, reported damage at a plant in Miyagi. Roads were also cracked near its factory, said Misako Nagata, a spokeswoman for the parts maker. Denso Corp., Japan's biggest auto-parts maker, said a plant under construction south of Miyagi was damaged. All of its workers were safe, said Goro Kanemasu, a spokesman for the company.

Sapporo Holdings Ltd., Japan's fourth-biggest beermaker, suspended operations at factories in Sendai and Chiba due to power outages and damage, Katsuhito Ogawa, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based company, said by e-mail.

Oriental Land Co., the operator of Tokyo Disney Resort, will close the amusement park tomorrow to inspect facilities, the company said in a statement today. It hasn't yet decided whether to open the resort on March 13. No injuries were reported at the resort, the company said.

Panasonic, Canon

Panasonic Corp. said several employees at its three factories in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures sustained minor injuries. The Osaka-based company is still assessing the damage to facilities, Yuichi Takatoku, a Tokyo-based spokesman for the company, said by phone.

Canon Inc., the world's biggest camera maker, didn't suffer damage to plants that would halt output, said Hirotomo Fujimori, a spokesman in Tokyo, where the company is based.

The quake was followed by a 7.1-magnitude aftershock at 4:25 p.m., the U.S. Geological Service said.

Boats smashed into walls as the tsunami struck, inundating buildings with black water full of debris across stretches of coast north of Tokyo, NHK images showed. One large building was lifted off its foundations and dragged into the ocean.

Farmland was flooded with burning debris in some areas as the tidal surge swept inland. Large boats were left stranded after the water surged back to sea.

Airport flooded

The airport in Sendai, a city of 1 million people 310 kilometers north of Tokyo, was flooded by the tsunami, according to NHK footage.

Japan Airlines Corp. diverted 22 flights to other airports, the company said in a faxed statement. In total, 27 flights have been impacted by the quake, affecting 5,290 people, the statement said.

East Japan Railway Co., the nation's largest train operator, suspended operations of trains in the Tokyo area along with its bullet-train operations, according to its website. Tokyo Metro Co., the capital's largest subway operator, said on its website it stopped trains, forcing commuters to line up for taxis.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordered the army to aid rescue efforts after the quake, which struck 373 kilometers northeast of Tokyo.






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