Japanese authorities urged residents in northeast coastal areas to evacuate immediately and not return until warnings have been lifted.
The quake struck 23 miles east-southeast of Namie at a depth of about 7 miles. At least 4 aftershocks of magnitude 4.8 or greater were recorded within an hour of the initial temblor, which struck frighteningly close to where the unprecedented 9.1-magnitude earthquake of 2011 occurred.
That event, referred to as the Great Sendai Earthquake or Great Tōhoku Earthquake, was triggered by a massive earthquake off the coast of Honshu, Japan’s main island, which caused tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 133 feet and traveled more than 6 miles inland. Perhaps most startling, the quake actually moved Honshu 8 feet east and shifted the Earth on its axis by up to 10 inches.
Tuesday’s earthquake was significantly smaller but still capable of profound destruction. Tsunami warnings were issued for waves of 3 to 10 feet, and soon after a number of large swells were spotted off the coast, according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency.
Of prime concern was the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was crippled by the 2011 disaster in what goes down as the world’s second worst nuclear accident in history behind Chernobyl in 1986.
A cooling pump system was temporarily stopped after Tuesday’s quake but soon resumed operation, according to a spokesman for the Tokyo Electric Power Company Inc. (TEPCO). No abnormalities or change in radiation levels have been reported in the aftermath.
This is a breaking story and more developments are expected shortly. As of 7:00 AM PST Tuesday, damage reports are still coming in. Tremors were felt in Tokyo and buildings in the capital shook for at least 30 seconds, according to the BBC.
A 2 foot wave hit Onahama Port in Fukushima and another slightly larger in Soma. Tsunami warnings have been downgraded but locals were asked to continue evacuating the area and to avoid the coastline.
Japan lies in a seismically active region that accounts for about 20% of quakes worldwide 6.0-magnitude or greater. At least 50 people died in two quakes in the southern Kumamoto prefecture in April.
Source: The Guardian