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Strong quake hits northeastern Japan; tsunami damage unlikely


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Tokyo, Feb. 13 (Jiji Press)—A powerful earthquake measuring up to upper 6, the second-highest level on the Japanese seismic intensity scale, jolted northeastern and other areas of Japan on Saturday night.

The quake is unlikely to cause tsunami damage although some changes in sea levels may be observed in coastal areas, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The temblor, with an estimated magnitude of 7.3, struck around 11:07 p.m. (2:07 p.m. GMT). The focus of the quake was estimated to be at a depth of about 55 kilometers off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, part of the Tohoku northeastern region, the agency said.

Upper 6 was registered in the city of Soma and the towns of Kunimi and Shinchi in Fukushima, and the town of Zao in Miyagi Prefecture in Tohoku. Lower 6, the third-highest level on the Japanese scale, was measured in the city of Fukushima and the city of Koriyama in Fukushima Prefecture, and the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi.

The secretariat for the Nuclear Regulation Authority said that no abnormality occurred after the quake at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear power plants. There was no report on problems from Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Onagawa nuclear plant in Miyagi and Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant in Ibaraki Prefecture in eastern Japan, according to the NRA secretariat.

The temblor was believed to be an aftershock of the 9.0-magnitude March 11, 2011, earthquake, which mainly struck the Tohoku region, the meteorological agency said.

At a press conference, Noriko Kamaya, senior coordinator for seismological information at the agency, called on people in areas hit hard by the latest quake to be alert for the possibility of temblors of up to upper 6 on the Japanese scale striking in the next week or so.

The Fukushima prefectural government said that one person in the city of Shirakawa and three people in the town of Yabuki suffered minor injuries from Saturday’s earthquake. On the Joban expressway, a truck may have been trapped in a landslide caused by the quake.

 

In Miyagi, three cases of fire occurred possibly due to the temblor, the prefecture’s police department said. But no one was injured in the fires, the police said.

According to TEPCO, a total of some 830,000 households in Tokyo and five nearby prefectures had been hit by power outage as of 11:45 p.m.

Tohoku Electric said that power outage occurred at a total of some 90,000 households in Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate Prefecture, also part of the Tohoku region.

Following the quake, East Japan Railway Co. , or JR East, temporarily halted operations of its Tohoku, Joetsu and Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train lines. Power outage occurred on some sections.

The Japanese government set up an office in response to the earthquake at the crisis management center at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga instructed government officials to grasp the extent of damage quickly and make all-out efforts to rescue and support affected people, in cooperation with local governments concerned. He also called for providing the public with accurate information in a timely way.

At a press conference early Sunday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato stressed that the government will work in unity to deal with the quake. On Saturday night, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi instructed the Self-Defense Forces to make all-out efforts in response to the quake.

The government will hold a meeting of related ministers over the earthquake from 9 a.m. Sunday.

After the large quake, many smaller earthquakes with a magnitude of 3 to 5 occurred off Fukushima.

The 7.3-magnitude quake happened only about a month ahead of the 10th anniversary of the March 2011 earthquake and subsequent massive tsunami. The disaster 10 years ago led to an unprecedented triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Published : February 14, 2021

By : The Japan News