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Quake, Tsunami Deal Blow to Japanese Automakers

Deaths, injuries, damaged plants; makers curb production.

by on Mar.11, 2011

A fireball erupts from an industrial area after the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan.

The massive earthquake that rocked northern Japan has dealt a hammer blow to the Japanese auto industry, which is still piecing together the impact of what is now believed to have been the worst temblor in recorded Japanese history – and the tsunami it spawned — on the country’s industrial base.

With numerous injuries and at least one death, as well as substantial physical damage, automakers large and small say they will be forced to curb production at more than a dozen plants.

“Today’s earthquake halted production at Japanese automakers in their home markets,” noted a report from Standard & Poors.

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Honda reported at least one death at its technical center north of Tokyo.  Company officials have confirmed one Honda associate died at the company’s Tochigi research and development center when a wall collapsed in a cafeteria.

More than 30 other Honda associates were injured in the Tochigi area from collapsing ceilings and other damage, according to the company, which did not provide any information about damage to the sensitive installation itself.  But Honda has halted production in at least two plants.