Powerful Earthquake Strikes Off Shore of Fukushima Prefecture, Triggering Tsunamis

fukushima-earthquake-november-22

Tuesday morning got off to a shaky start all along the eastern coast of Japan.

The first earthquake struck at 05:59, with a reported magnitude of 7.3 (JMA 5), and the epicenter just off the coast of Fukushima, 30 km below the surface. It was later adjusted to a 6.9 magnitude by the USGS, although the JMA have graded it at 7.4. The earthquake rocked most of the country, with reports of tremors being felt from Hokkaido all the way south towards Kobe. Tokyoites felt tremors that measured as high as 3 on the JMA scale.

Tsunami warnings were immediately issued in Fukushima, Iwate, and Chiba prefectures, and a special 3-meter tsunami warning announced for Miyagi Prefecture. Throughout the morning, several tsunamis struck the coast, mostly ranging in height from 20cm to over 90cm. The largest observed was at 140cm, along Sendai Harbor.

Footage of the tsunami’s effect on a waterway in Fukushima Prefecture can be seen here:

Coastal residents in the area have been instructed to relocate temporarily to higher ground; businesses and schools have been suspended for the day in anticipation of aftershocks and continuing tsunamis. Flights to and from Sendai Airport have been delayed or canceled. Officials and emergency services are working to evacuate citizens in immediate danger as a precaution. No injuries or deaths as a direct result of the earthquake and subsequent tsunamis have been reported as of late morning on Tuesday.

The JMA expects there to be no significant damage as a result of the ongoing tsunamis, but advises all people to stay away from the sea and the until further announcements are made. As of 10:00am, the tsunami warning has been downgraded to an advisory, with evacuations in relevant locations still in place.

TEPCO has also issued a positive report: only the first tsunami wave, measured at just under 1m, was high enough to reach the Fukushima Daini reactor, but no damage was found. The cooling systems were shut down and successfully restarted after investigators checked the scene and determined it was safe enough to restart.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is currently in Buenos Aires, ordered government officials to “provide the public with up to date and accurate information.”

NHK will be streaming live in both Japanese (http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/live/) and English (http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/live/) throughout the day to update viewers on the incoming tsunamis, aftershocks, and any related information. Reddit also has a lively discussion thread going, which you can check out here.

(All times listed are Japan Standard Time).

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