A powerful earthquake with an initial magnitude of 7.6 has struck Ishikawa in central Japan, prompting a tsunami warning and advisories for residents to evacuate and brace for potential aftershocks.
Public broadcaster NHK reported Monday that a tsunami approximately 1 meter high (3.3 feet) hit parts of the west coast along the Sea of Japan, with a larger wave expected.
The Japan Meteorological Agency issued tsunami warnings for the coastal prefectures of Ishikawa, Niigata, and Toyama.
NHK urged all residents to evacuate immediately to higher ground after the quake hit the Noto region in Ishikawa prefecture around 4:10 pm local time (07:10 GMT). Another earthquake warning was issued for Ishikawa.
US and Japanese agencies warned of hazardous tsunami waves of up to 5 meters high (16.4 feet) along the north coast of central Japan within 300 km (186 miles) of the epicenter of the magnitude 7.5 quake.
Yoshimasa Hayashi, Japan’s top government spokesperson, said in an emergency news conference that authorities were still assessing the extent of the damage and cautioned residents to prepare for possible further quakes.
Footage aired by NHK indicated buildings collapsing in Ishikawa, and tremors shook buildings in the capital Tokyo on the opposite coast.
Over 36,000 households lost power in Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures, according to utilities provider Hokuriku Electric Power.
Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority stated that no irregularities have been confirmed at nuclear power plants along the Sea of Japan, including five active reactors at Kansai Electric Power’s Ohi and Takahama plants in Fukui prefecture.
Hokuriku’s Shika plant in Ishikawa, closest to the quake’s epicenter, had already halted its two reactors before the quake for regular inspection and experienced no impact from the quake, the agency reported.
South Korea’s meteorological agency warned of a potential rise in sea levels in some parts of Gangwon province on the east coast.
Japan is among the most earthquake-prone countries globally. A massive earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, causing nearly 20,000 casualties, devastating towns, and triggering nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima.
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