A strong earthquake shook central Japan on Monday, prompting warnings for residents to evacuate some areas of its western coast. leaving thousands of homes without power and disrupting flights and train services.
The movement, with a preliminary magnitude of 7.6, caused waves of around 1 meter in some areas of the Sea of Japan coast and a larger wave is expected, public broadcaster NHK reported. The Japan Meteorological Agency has issued tsunami warnings for the coastal prefectures of Ishikawa, Niigata and Toyama, marking the first major warnings since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan. Russia issued tsunami warnings in its far eastern cities of Vladivostok and Nakhodka. South Korea and North Korea also issued their own warnings.
Some houses were destroyed and army units were sent to help in rescue operations, Hayashi Yoshimasa, a senior government spokesman, told reporters.who added that authorities are still assessing the damage.
According to Toshihiro Shimoyama, head of the Japan Meteorological Agency, in the coming days there could be more strong tremors in the area, where seismic activity has remained. latent for more than three years.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also warned residents to prepare for more disasters. “Residents should remain alert to the possibility of further tremors and I urge residents in areas where tsunamis are expected to evacuate as soon as possible,” he said. “Run!” A bright yellow warning flashed on television screens advising residents in specific areas of the coast to immediately evacuate their homes.
Images broadcast by local media showed a building collapsing amid a column of dust in the coastal city of Suzu and a huge crack on a road in Wajima, where panicked parents grabbed their children. The earthquake also shook buildings in the capital, Tokyo, about 500 kilometers from Wajima.on the opposite coast.
More than 36,000 homes were left without power in Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures, according to the Hokuriku Electric Power company. 9505.T. High-speed rail services to Ishikawa have been suspended, while telecommunications operators Softbank 9434.T and KDDI 9433.T reported interruptions to telephone and internet service in Ishikawa and Niigata.
Japanese airline ANA 9202.T returned planes heading to Toyama and Ishikawa airports, while Japan Airlines 9201.T canceled most of its services to the Niigata and Ishikawa regions and authorities reported the closure of one of Ishikawa’s airports.
Nuclear power plants
The Japanese Nuclear Regulatory Authority stated that no irregularities have been confirmed at nuclear power plants located along the Sea of Japan, including the five active reactors at the Kansai Electric Power 9503.T Ohi and Takahama plants in Fukui prefecture. Hokuriku’s Shika plant in Ishikawa, the nuclear power plant closest to the earthquake’s epicenter, had already stopped its two reactors before the move for regular inspections and was not impacted by the quake, the agency said.
The 2011 earthquake and tsunami killed nearly 20,000 people and devastated cities and nuclear power plants in Fukushima. Another earthquake, known as the Great Hanshin Earthquake, shook western Japan in 1995, killing more than 6,000 people, mainly in the city of Kobe.
Monday’s earthquake occurred during the January 1 holiday, when millions of Japanese traditionally visit temples to celebrate the new year. In Kanazawa, a popular tourist destination in Ishikawa, images showed the remains of a collapsed torii gate, scattered at the entrance to a shrine.
Kanazawa resident Ayako Daikai said she had evacuated to a nearby primary school with her husband and two children shortly after the earthquake. The classrooms, stairs, hallways and gym were packed with evacuees. “I also experienced the Great Hanshin Earthquake, so I thought the safest thing would be to evacuate,” he told Reuters. “We haven’t decided when to come home yet.”