Japan Meteorological Agency has warned of a powerful 7.3 magnitude quake that shook eastern Japan on Wednesday (March 16, 2022) night, rattling the capital, Tokyo, and prompting a tsunami advisory for parts of the northern coast.
The quake, which cut power to more than two million households, was centred off the coast of the Fukushima region at a depth of 60 kilometres (37 miles).
Shortly after it hit at 11:36 pm (14:36 GMT), an advisory for tsunami waves of one metre was issued for the coasts of northeastern Fukushima and Miyagi regions.
Japan’s nuclear authority disclosed that no abnormalities were detected at the stricken Fukushima plant that went into meltdown 11 years ago, after a huge 9.0 magnitude quake off the eastern coast on March 11, 2011, which triggered a deadly tsunami and nuclear disaster.
Top government spokesman, Hirokazu Matsuno, in an interview, told reporters that “Calls have been inundating police and ambulances in Fukushima and Miyagi. We’re doing our best to assess the extent of the damage.”
Matsuno intimated that an emergency government task force has been set up and it has also warned residents of possible strong aftershocks over the next week.
“Major aftershocks often happen a couple of days after the first quake, so please stay away from any collapsed buildings … and other high-risk places.”
According to electricity provider, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), at least, two million people were left without power in the central Kanto region, including 700,000 in Tokyo. Elsewhere in the northeast, the regional energy company, Tahoku Electric Power, pointed out that 156,000 households have no power.
Japan sitting between the Ring of fire
Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, in an interview with reporters, averred the government is gathering information on the situation.
“We will commit ourselves to gathering information, do our best to rescue those affected by the (quake) and communicate information appropriately.”
The regional train company, JR East, announced that it was experiencing significant disruption to its operations. Japan sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic (relating to earthquakes or other vibrations of the earth and its crust) activity that stretches through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
The country is regularly hit by quakes and has strict construction regulations intended to ensure buildings can withstand strong tremors.
Anniversary to mark a past quake
Japan remains haunted by the memory of the 2011 undersea quake in northeastern Japan that triggered a deadly tsunami and unleashed the Fukushima nuclear accident.
A minute’s silence was held on Friday, March 11, 2022, which marked the anniversary of the disaster, to remember some 18,500 people that died while other went missing in the tsunami.
Around the stricken Fukushima plant, extensive decontamination has been carried out, and this year, 2022, five former residents of Futaba, the region’s last uninhabited town, returned to live there on a trial basis.
Around 12 percent of Fukushima was once declared unsafe but no-go zones now cover just 2.4 percent of the area, although populations in many towns remain far lower than before.