Disasters & Accidents

Strong earthquake rattles northeast Japan

Tokyo, Feb 13 (efe-epa).- A magnitude-7.3 earthquake was felt in the northeastern coastal prefecture of Fukushima late Saturday, but Japanese authorities ruled out the risk of a tsunami and said they had no reports of fatalities.

The quake struck at 11:08 pm (14:08 GMT) off the coast of Fukushima, where a magnitude-9.0 temblor and subsequent tsunami killed more than 15,000 people in March 2011 while causing one of history’s worst nuclear disasters.

After initially estimating the strength of Saturday’s earthquake at magnitude-7.1, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) upgraded the intensity to magnitude-7.3.

The epicenter was roughly 55 km (34 mi) below the ocean floor, according to the JMA.

“There have been no anomalies reported from any of the nuclear facilities,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, referring to the Fukushima Dai-ichi and Fukushima Da-ini plants.

Both plants have been shut down since the 2011 meltdowns at Fukushima Dai-ichi as a result of tsunami damage.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates both of the nuclear plants in Fukushima, said that “no abnormalities” had been detected in the wake of Saturday’s earthquake.

The government established a crisis center in the prime minister’s office and “remains in contact with all of the relevant authorities,” Suga told reporters.

“We will continue to respond, putting human lives first,” he said.

The temblor damaged homes and infrastructure in Fukushima and neighboring Miyagi prefecture and more than two-dozen people suffered injuries, state-run NHK television said, airing images of collapsed walls and roofs and a segment of highway buried under a landslide.

Roughly 850,000 residential customers were without power and passenger rail service in the affected area was disrupted.

Saturday’s quake “might have been an aftershock” of the catastrophic temblor in March 2011, JMA chief seismologist Noriko Kamaya said, warning that additional strong earthquakes were possible in the coming days. EFE

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