A powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck southern Japan near the city of Kumamoto on Saturday morning around 1:25 a.m. local time, killing at least 19 people and injuring more than 1,000. Saturday’s powerful earthquake came just over a day after another strong, but smaller, earthquake struck the same region.
According to seismologists, Saturday’s earthquake was centered about half of a mile southwest of Kumamoto and struck about seven and a half miles deep, making it a very shallow earthquake.
Rating and measuring earthquakes is a dynamic process. The Japan Meteorological Agency initially put Saturday’s earthquake at a magnitude of 7.1, which it would later revise to 7.3. The US Geological Survey put its preliminary magnitude rating at 7.0; based off of precedent, a further revision from the USGS is likely.
Computer models from the USGS estimate that approximately 26 million people across Japan’s southwestern region may have felt Saturday’s earthquake. Of these people, some 1.1 million are estimated to have experienced severe or violent shaking.
The USGS also stated that the region would be in a “red alert” for earthquake related fatalities and economic losses. “High casualties and extensive damage are probable and the disaster is likely widespread,” said the USGS. Many buildings collapsed and were badly damaged, while many others were swept away by large landslides. Dozens of people are feared to be trapped under the rubble.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff suffered a significant defeat on Sunday as the lower house of the National Congress voted 367–146 to impeach President Rousseff, which was beyond the two-thirds majority needed to advance the impeachment proceedings to the upper house.
Tens of millions of Brazilians gathered in the streets and public places to watch the vote, which was announced deputy by deputy.
Once the senate agrees to consider the motion, Rousseff would have to step aside for 180 days, and the Workers party government that has ruled Brazil since 2002, would probably be replaced by a right-of-center administration led by the current Vice President Michel Temer, although he himself may also face impeachment proceedings.
President Rousseff stands accused of manipulating government finances to hide a growing deficit and obstructing investigations into a prominent oil company that she used to be the chairwoman of. To the ire of many Brazilians, President Rousseff also appointed former President Lula to her cabinet, a figure whose administration was plagued with corruption.
Last week, Victoria became the first state in Australia to legalize the use of medicinal cannabis after the Access to Medicinal Cannabis bill passed Parliament. Children with severe epilepsy will be the first Victorians permitted to use the drug in 2017.
The bill allows for the manufacture, supply and access to medicinal cannabis products in Victoria. “We’re starting with these children with severe epilepsy, whose lives have been shown to improve so significantly, because we know these children often don’t make it until adulthood,” said Victoria’s Health Minister Jill Hennessy.
Minister Hennessy also said that it was unfair that parents of children with severe epilepsy had to make a decision between obeying the law and acting in the best interests of their child, since the only way for parents to acquire cannabis before the recently passed legislation was for them to purchase it illegally.
Victoria will set up an Office of Medicinal Cannabis to oversee the manufacture of the drugs, and would educate doctors, patients and their families about the new processes and regulations. Additionally, an independent body will be commissioned by the government to provide advice on the introduction of the drug.