M6.9 quake strikes off Fukushima, triggering tsunami waves
Tuesday, November 22, 2016, 9:50 AM - A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck offshore of eastern Japan near Fukushima Prefecture Tuesday morning, triggering tsunami warnings and subsequent waves. The quake came exactly a month after a magnitude 6.2 quake rocked western Japan.
The tremor was given a preliminary rating of 7.3, but was later downgraded to 6.9, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). A tsunami warning was issued for Fukushima Prefecture, with officials warning of possible 3-metre waves. It was later downgraded to an advisory just before 10 a.m. local time, before being lifted altogether late Tuesday, local time.
"Based on the preliminary earthquake parameters... hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 300 km of the earthquake epicenter," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially reported.
Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, promised federal support for areas impacted by the latest temblor. It hit around 6 a.m. local time Tuesday about 37 km east-southeast of Namie, with a depth of 11 km. The tremor was felt as far as Tokyo, with several aftershocks reported in the Namie area. At least six people suffered minor injuries, according to NHK news. Damage from the quake remains unclear.
"Evacuate immediately from coastal regions and riverside areas to a safer place such as high ground or an evacuation building," said the Japan Meteorological Agency.
Miyagi Prefecture was under a tsunami advisory, where a 1.4 metre wave was recorded at Sendai port. Meanwhile, a 1 metre wave hit the coastline near the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
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Small tsunami waves surged up the Sunaoshi River in Tagajo, Migayi Prefecture soon after the quake. Multiple aftershocks were also reported within the three-hour time frame that followed, the USGS reports.
津波 多賀城市砂押川 もう6回目だってよ pic.twitter.com/FGijJaJalB— りょうちん (@RyotaYuuma1205) November 22, 2016
As of 8 a.m. local time, the tsunami threat had “largely passed” but sea level fluctuations may continue along some coast, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.
Cabinet chief secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Tuesday that the water cooling system on the third reactor of the Fukushima plant had stopped working, however, there were no other irregularities observed. The system was eventually restarted, with only small temperature increases recorded, all within safe range.
Japan is no stranger to seismic activity, as the country lies along the Pacific ring of fire, a zone around the Pacific Ocean where 90 percent of the world's earthquakes strike. Approximately 1,500 hit the country annually. The largest recorded quake to hit the island occurred in March of 2011, when a magnitude 9.0 left more than 22,000 dead or missing and sent three nuclear reactors into meltdown.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company noted no abnormalities at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was severely damaged in 2011's tsunami.
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With files from Leeanna McLean and Daksha Rangan.