6.9-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Off Japan
A powerful earthquake off the northeast Japanese coast on Tuesday sent residents fleeing to higher ground and prompted worries about the Fukushima nuclear power plant destroyed by a tsunami five year ago.
Lines of cars were seen snaking away from the coast in the pre-dawn hours after authorities issued a tsunami warning and urged residents to seek higher ground immediately. The warning was lifted nearly four hours later.
The magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck in the same region that was devastated by a tsunami in 2011, killing some 18,000 people.
On Tuesday, tsunami waves were recorded along the coast. The highest one was 1.4 metres in Sendai Bay. A tsunami advisory was eventually lifted at 12.50pm local time.
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NYTIMES.COM ~ TOKYO — A powerful earthquake triggered a tsunami off the coast of Japan early Tuesday, near where three nuclear reactors melted down at a plant in Fukushima after a quake and tsunami in 2011.
Tuesday’s quake quickly brought evacuation warnings along the coast that was ravaged just over five years ago. For about 90 minutes, fears of the 2011 nuclear disaster were raised as a cooling system in one reactor in another nearby plant shut down. It was restored without incident.
The public broadcaster NHK exhorted residents of Fukushima Prefecture to leave coastal areas immediately. “Please move as far away from the shoreline as possible,” the announcer said. “Please remember the Great East Japan earthquake.”
A tsunami wave of about 55 inches hit the port of Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture about an hour and a half after the quake hit, and NHK said minor injuries had been reported. The first tsunami waves hit the coast at Onahama in Fukushima Prefecture at about 23 inches. At the Fukushima nuclear plant, the tsunami waves rose to about three feet. No deaths were immediately reported.
The Japanese weather service reported a preliminary magnitude of 7.4 and issued a warning of a tsunami of about 10 feet. (The United States Geological Survey reported a lower magnitude, 6.9.)
The warnings were lifted in the early afternoon, and people were allowed to return to their homes.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, reported that a cooling system in one of the reactors at Fukushima Daini, a nuclear facility not far from the ruined Daiichi plant, had stopped but said there was enough water in the reactor to keep the 2,544 spent fuel rods cool in the short term. But the utility later said the system had resumed operations after 90 minutes.
The Fukushima Daini power station, about seven miles south of Daiichi, has not produced electricity since the 2011 calamity, in which it suffered earthquake damage. Most of Japan’s nuclear power plants have been shut down since soon after the disaster amid public concern about their safety. Fukushima Daini’s reactors are turned off, but the plant still has uranium fuel in a storage pool that must be kept cool by pumping water through the reactors.