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Toyota, Honda, Subaru and Nissan close factories cause of Japanese earthquake

11 March 2011

Toyota, Honda, Subaru and Nissan close factories cause of Japanese earthquake

Photo by Associated Press/NHK TV

The quake, Japan’s strongest in at least a century, struck at 2:46 p.m. local time 130 kilometers (81 miles) off the coast of Sendai, north of Tokyo, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The tremor caused a tsunami as high as 10 meters (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 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 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.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire nation of Japan.

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