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Friday, 11 March 2011 17:17

Japanese Automakers Close Plants After Earthquake

Many automakers, including 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.

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 closed three affiliate 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.

Toyota Motor Corp. said its own auto plants were operating but production had been halted at some subsidiary factories producing components, and the employees had been evacuated to safer areas.

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.

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. (3116), 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. (6902), 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.

The following is a summary of what companies have said regarding damage from the earthquake:

Company                  Status
Toyota Motor Corp.       Three group factories halted
Nissan Motor Co.         Halted production at four plants; two injuries
Honda Motor Co.          Halted two plants; one employee killed; about 30 injured
Toyota Boshoku Corp.     Damage at plant in Miyagi
Denso Corp.              Damage to plant under construction in Fukushima
Fuji Heavy Industries    Five plants halted


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