Coastal residents fled to higher ground as a strong 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit northeastern Japan early Tuesday sent a series of moderate tsunamis toward Japan’s northeastern shore.
A three metre tsunami could hit the northeastern coast, Japan’s Meteorological Agency said, including Fukushima — home to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, site of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters. So far, several tsunami waves, the biggest measuring 90 cm have hit the northeastern coast, public broadcaster NHK reported.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the 6.9 magnitude quake, at a shallow depth of 11.3 km, struck shortly before 6 a.m. (2.30 a.m. IST, Tuesday) in the Pacific off Fukushima. Japan’s meteorological agency had earlier estimated the quake’s magnitude at 7.3.
At least 12 people were reported injured, and Japanese TV images showed items scattered on the floor in a store, and books that had fallen from shelves in a library. The earthquake shook buildings in Tokyo, 240 kilometers (150 miles) southwest of the epicenter.
Initial reports said there appeared to be no significant damage to the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
An announcer on public broadcaster NHK urged residents along the coast to move to high ground.
“Please flee immediately,” the male voice said, with great urgency.
In some areas, water could be seen rushing up rivers, which funnel tsunamis to a greater height, but it remained well within flood embankments. It was eerily reminiscent of the 2011 disaster, when much larger tsunamis rushed up rivers and overflowed, wiping away entire neighborhoods.