A 7.6 magnitude earthquake shook central and western Japan on Monday, forcing a tsunami warning to be issued along much of the country’s west coast, according to national broadcaster NHK. Initially, the Japanese meteorological agency had declared the highest level of tsunami alert since the 2011 disaster which caused the Fukushima nuclear accident. After 8:30 p.m. (12:30 p.m. Spanish Peninsula Time), authorities lowered the alert level from “major tsunami warning” to “tsunami warning.”
Monday’s quake first hit the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, but state news agency Kyodo said it was felt from Aomori Prefecture in the northeast to the southwest region of Kyushu. More than 51,000 people in five prefectures have been asked to evacuate their homes in anticipation of waves of up to five meters. The government has confirmed that six people are buried under the rubble and that they are still alive, reports the Kyodo agency.
The Japanese Nuclear Regulatory Authority assures that no problem has been detected in the reactors of the Shika nuclear power plant in Ishikawa, and adds that there is no risk of radioactive leak from the plants in the areas affected by the earthquake, as reported by NHK.
The tsunami warning urged people to quickly leave coastal areas in Ishikawa, Niigata, Toyama and Yamagata prefectures. Waves of more than 1.2 meters reached the port of Wajima (Ishikawa) around 4:21 p.m. (8:21 a.m. Spanish peninsula time), according to NHK. The Hokuriku Electric Power nuclear plant (located in Toyama) reported that more than 36,000 homes were experiencing power outages.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida asked in a speech broadcast by the NHK channel to “remain alert to the possibility of new earthquakes”. He also urged residents of areas “where tsunamis are expected” to evacuate “as soon as possible”.
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The Ishikawa prefectural government and local emergency services reported that many houses collapsed and about 32,500 households were experiencing power outages. Train services were suspended in the region, while telecommunications operators Softbank and KDDI communicated through their websites that interruptions were occurring in telephone and Internet services in Ishikawa and Niigata. Power outages are also affecting around 3,000 homes in Toyama Prefecture.
Russia also issues tsunami alert
In Russia, the government also issued a tsunami alert in the cities of Vladivostok and Kakhodka. The Ministry of Emergency Situations reported that part of the west coast of the Russian island of Sakhalin (located north of Japan) was also at risk of a tsunami. Russian news agency TASS reported that the local population was being evacuated.
On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake caused a gigantic tsunami which devastated the north of the Japanese archipelago. The powerful quake northeast of Tokyo, the largest since Japan began recording data more than 150 years ago, produced waves up to nine meters high that devastated the country’s northeast coast and damaged several nuclear reactors in the region, including the Fukushima Daiichi plant, triggering a major accident from which the region has yet to recover. This triple disaster cost the lives of nearly 20,000 people.
The Daiichi nuclear power plant, currently being decommissioned, began discharging its waters into the ocean this summer, a move that, although supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency, has sparked strong opposition among residents local and certain neighboring countries, notably China. .
For its part, South Korea’s Interior Ministry reported that authorities in Gangwon province, on the country’s east coast, sent warning messages calling on the population to stay away from coasts and head towards shelter. , given the possibility of tsunami waves reaching the region tonight.
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