Earthquake Halts Manufacturing in Parts of Japan; Automakers Hit

Damage assessments continue.

Manufacturers with facilities in Japan were assessing damage today following an 8.9-magnitude earthquake that struck the island nation today. Information was changing rapidly as new reports emerged.

The Cosmo Oil Co. refinery in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture, caught fire, leading to a large explosion shortly after 5:00 p.m. (0800 GMT), and the blaze was still raging late on Friday night, the company said.

A major explosion hit a petrochemical complex in the northeast city of Sendai hours after the earthquake, media reports said.

Automaker Nissan Motor Co. said four manufacturing plants and an operations center had suspended operations. Small fires at two plants had been extinguished. Two employees suffered minor injuries.

The company said it would suspend operations initially planned for March 12 and March 13. Operations beyond those dates would be decided following assessments, including of suppliers, scheduled for March 12.

Toyota Motor Corp. said it had established a company-wide emergency task force to assess the situation and determine next steps. Four Toyota subsidiary plants have stopped production, with employees from those facilities evacuated to safe areas.

A least one person died at a Honda facility died when a cafeteria wall caved in, news reports said. Multiple Honda plants have shut down.

Two Toshiba-SanDisk joint-venture semiconductor manufacturing plants, Fab 3 and Fab 4, were down for a short period of time due to the earthquake but returned to operations, SanDisk Corp. said, adding that there were no injuries to its employees based in Japan.

Sony Corp suspended production at its six plants in Miyagi Prefecture and neighboring Fukushima Prefecture, it said, adding it had evacuated all employees there.

Agilent Technologies said its Japanese operations were not impacted by the earthquake.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.

See also:

U.S. Delivers Coolant To Japanese Nuclear Reactor

Deadly Japan Earthquake Risks Fiscal Crisis

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