Large earthquake strikes off Fukushima in Japan

Last Updated Nov 21, 2016 11:23 PM EST

TOKYO -- An earthquake with magnitude of 6.9 struck Tuesday off the coast of Fukushima prefecture in Japan, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

However, a preliminary magnitude 7.3 earthquake was recorded, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. Both agencies put the depth at just over 6 miles. 

The powerful earthquake off the northeast Japanese shore sent residents fleeing to higher ground and prompted worries about the Fukushima nuclear power plant destroyed by a tsunami five year ago. 

All tsunami warnings and advisories have been lifted in Japan, seven hours after a powerful offshore earthquake triggered a series of moderate tsunami waves.

The Japan Meteorological Agency warned of waves of up to 10 feet soon after the magnitude 7.4 earthquake and urged residents on sections of the Pacific coast to evacuate to higher ground.

The first tsunamis were recorded about one hour later. The largest one of 4.6 feet in height reached Sendai Bay about two hours after the earthquake.

The tsunami warnings were lifted first, but advisories of possible smaller tsunamis had remained in place until 12:50 p.m. 

Waves of around three feet were observed in Soma port in Fukushima, according to Japanese media.

There were reports of minor injuries and damage, Japanese broadcaster NHK said. The earthquake shook buildings in Tokyo, 150 miles southwest of the epicenter.

NHK also showed one person’s video of water rushing up a river or canal, but well within the height of the embankment. It was eerily reminiscent of the 2011 disaster, when much larger tsunamis rushed up rivers and overflowed, wiping away entire neighborhoods.

Two operators of potentially affected nuclear plants reported no initial signs of damage. 

japan-2016-quake-map.jpg

A map showing the epicenter of an earthquake recorded off Japan on Nov. 21, 2016. The rings show the diminishing power of the tremor.

USGS

The Pacific Tusnami Warning Center said in a statement faraway places like Hawaii aren’t expected to experience any tsunami affects. 

In 2011, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake in the same region triggered a massive tsunami and led to almost 16,000 deaths. The temblor and tsunami led to a nuclear disaster at the power plant in Fukushima, which is still causing problems to this day.

The operator of the plant said there were no abnormalities observed at the plant, Japanese public broadcaster NHK said.

Reuters reported that as a result of the 2011 disaster, all nuclear plants on the coast threatened by the tsunami are shutdown in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. Only two reactors are operating in Japan, both in the southwest of the country, far away from the tsunami warning.