TOKYO: On Wednesday, a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 struck Japan’s northeast coast, shaking buildings as far away as Tokyo and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the tremor struck off the coast of Fukushima prefecture, about 275 kilometres (170 miles) northeast of Tokyo, at a depth of 60 kilometres.
Authorities said it triggered a fire alarm at a turbine at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, and they were checking the situation. In March 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami wreaked havoc on that plant.
Authorities issued a 1 metre (3.3 ft) tsunami warning for the region, with public broadcaster reporting waves as high as 20 centimetres (8 inches) in some areas. Fumio Kishida, the Prime Minister of Japan, told reporters that his government was assessing the extent of any damage.
According to public broadcaster, the Tokyo Electric Power Company said around 2 million households were without power, including 700,000 in the capital, and that it was checking the condition of reactors at Fukushima and other plants. According to government officials, no damage has yet been reported at those facilities or at oil refineries along the coast.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s radiation lea**k in 2011 was the worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine a quarter-century earlier.
Residents in Fukushima, Miyagi, and Yamagata prefectures have been warned to expect aftershocks. Japan, which sits at the intersection of several tectonic plates, is home to about a fifth of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.