West News Wire: On Wednesday evening, a huge 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima in northern Japan, generating a tsunami warning and knocking out electricity to more than 2 million residences in the Tokyo area.
The location is located in northern Japan, which was ravaged by a terrible 9.0 earthquake and tsunami 11 years ago, which also resulted in nuclear plant meltdowns and the release of enormous amounts of radiation, rendering certain areas uninhabitable.
Although the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center stated that there was no longer a tsunami threat, the Japan Meteorological Agency maintained their low risk advisory. Tsunami waves measuring 20 centimeters (8 inches) had already hit the shore in Ishinomaki, roughly 390 kilometers (242 miles) northeast of Tokyo, according to NHK national television.
NHK footage showed broken walls of a department store building fell to the ground and shards of windows scattered on the street near the main train station in Fukushima city, about 60 kilometers (36 miles) west from the coastline.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, which operates the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant where the cooling systems failed after the 2011 disaster, said workers found no abnormalities at the site, which was in the process of being decommissioned.
Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said a fire alarm went off at the turbine building of No. 5 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi but there was no actual fire. Water pumps for the spent fuel cooling pool at two of the four reactors at Fukushima Daini briefly stopped, but later resumed operation. Fukushima Daini is also set for decommissioning.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake hit at 11:36 p.m. at a depth of 60 kilometers (36 miles) below the sea.
Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force said it dispatched fighter jets from the Hyakuri base in Ibaraki prefecture, just south of Fukushima, for information gathering and damage assessment.
NHK said there were reports of fire, damage to buildings and falling rocks in Iitate town in Fukushima. There was no word on any casualties.
More than 2.2 million homes were without electricity in 14 northeastern prefectures including the Tokyo region, serviced by TEPCO and another utility, Tohoku Electric Power Co., according to the companies.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said power was expected to be restored soon after midnight Wednesday.
The quake shook large parts of eastern Japan, including Tokyo, where buildings swayed violently.
East Japan Railway Co. said most of its train services were suspended for safety checks. Some local trains later resumed service.
A Tohoku Shinkansen express train partially derailed between Fukushima and Miyagi due to the quake, but nobody was injured, Kishida said.
He told reporters that the government was assessing the extent of damage and promised to do its utmost for rescue and relief operations.
“Please first take action to save your life,” Kishida tweeted.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said there were a number of emergency calls and local authorities were scrambling to assess damage.
“We are doing our utmost in rescue operations and putting people’s lives first,” he said.
He urged residents in the affected areas to use extra caution for possible major aftershocks for about a week.