On New Year's Day, Japan shakes 21 times in 90 minutes. The strongest earthquake reached a magnitude of 7.6.
(Reuters/DPA) A powerful 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck central Japan on New Year's Day. Japanese television stations also reported, on Monday evening (local time), that several houses had collapsed in the affected areas on the coast of the Sea of Japan. Individual streets and parking lots were torn up, and a fire broke out in a factory.
The earthquake occurred at 4:10 pm local time (8:10 am CET). According to the meteorological agency, the epicenter of the earthquake was in the Noto area at a shallow depth. Within 90 minutes, the Earth shook 21 times with a force greater than 4.
Then a tsunami about one meter high struck parts of the west coast along the Sea of Japan. A spokeswoman for the station constantly and urgently urged residents to seek safety on higher ground. Several nuclear power plants operate on the affected West Coast. No damage to the facilities has been reported so far.
The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning for the coastal prefectures of Ishikawa, Niigata and Toyama. Chief government spokesman Hayashi Yoshimasa said in an emergency press conference that authorities were still assessing the extent of the damage. High-speed trains have been temporarily suspended.
Pictures broadcast by NHK showed collapsed buildings in Ishikawa. In the capital, Tokyo, on the opposite coast, earthquakes shook buildings. More than 36,000 homes were without power in Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures, according to Hokuriku Electric Power Company.
Watch: Tsunami waves detected along the coast of western Japan. People are being urged to evacuate pic.twitter.com/sY3bdpVZVc
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Japan's nuclear regulatory authority said it found no violations at nuclear power plants along the Sea of Japan, including the five active reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Ohi and Takahama plants in Fukui Prefecture. The agency said that the Shika power plant in Hokuriku in Ishikawa Prefecture, closest to the epicenter, had already shut down its two reactors for regular pre-quake inspections and had not seen any effects from the quake.
Compared to the March 2011 tsunami, the tsunami waves this time were much smaller. At that time, a 9-magnitude earthquake caused a huge tsunami that destroyed large areas in the northeast of the archipelago and killed about 20,000 people. There was a disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Japan is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.
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