Google releases first satellite images of Japan after quake

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Google on Saturday released its first satellite images of Japan since the devastation that followed a massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit the island nation Friday afternoon local time.

The images, from Google partner GeoEye, were generated by the IKONOS satellite. Google Earth users may view images from Kamaishi, located to the north of Sendai, an area extremely hard hit by the quake and tsunami. In the images, taken Saturday morning, Kamaishi is somewhat obscured by cloud clover.

Photos: Scenes from the earthquake


In addition, Google released satellite images of Tokyo, also taken Saturday morning. Keep in mind that the images must be viewed using Google Earth, which can be downloaded onto your computer.

With Google Earth installed these links will let you view:

-- Kamaishi (north of the northern Japanese city of Sendai, which was devastated by the quake) , and Tokyo.

-- This is the before-and-after view of Kamaishi in Google Earth.

-- Google also released a map highlighting roads they consider passable post-earthquake, meaning a car subscribing to their navigation service was able to use the road during the past 24 hours. The map is updated daily and can be translated from Japanese to English with Google Translate.

The map, which is in Japanese, is updated daily, Google officials said. They suggest English speakers use Google translate if they are interested reading the road map.

Google is trying to acquire more images of the area, according to an email statement released Saturday.

[Update 8 p.m.: Google has made a Picasa gallery featuring before-and-after images of devastated areas available: See the Japan image gallery. Images include satellite views of the southern coast of Sendai, Minamisoma, Oshika Peninsula, Iwaki, Yokohama and Fukushima, in a view that includes the nuclear plant prior to the collapse of the outer shell of one reactor.

In addition, Google has made it possible to view all satellite images using Google maps: See Satellite imagery of Japan Earthquake.”]

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