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Japan earthquake kills four, injures hundreds

March 17, 2022

The strong tremor struck near Fukushima prefecture, but there was no major damage at the disabled nuclear power station. Millions were without power and manufacturing plants had to close temporarily.

Rocks and rubble after an earthquake in Sendai, Japan, March 2022
The powerful earthquake destroyed infrastructure and left millions of Japanese without powerImage: Kaname Muto/Yomiuri Shimbun/AP/AP Images/picture alliance

A powerful earthquake that rocked the Japanese prefectures of Miyagi and Fukushima killed at least four people and injured more than 200, public broadcaster NHK reported on Thursday.

What do we know so far?

The unusually long quake destroyed buildings and roads, ruptured water lines, and left 2.2 million people without power for hours, including 700,000 in Tokyo. A Shinkansen high speed train was also derailed, though none of its 100 passengers were badly injured. 

The tremor, which was initially reported as a 7.3 magnitude before being upgraded to 7.4, also prompted a tsunami warning that was later dropped.

Several producers of key components for electronics, including semiconductor manufacturer Renesas Electronics and Sony Corp., announced that they would have to shut down certain plants to assess the damage. This move is likely to cause further chaos in the global supply chain, particularly in the semiconductor industry, that has been ongoing due to the pandemic.

Infographic depicting location of strong earthquake in Japan
The quake occurred off Japan's coast, not far from the disabled Fukushima plant

Officials say no increased radiation present

Officials said that while the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant experienced a drop in reactor pressure due to the quake, there was no increased radiation and there did not seem to be cause for concern.

When the tsunami alarm was raised on Wednesday, many were worried about a repeat of the March 2011 disaster, in which an earthquake and tidal wave in the same area killed nearly 20,000 people and the resulting meltdown at the Fukushima plant killed another 2,000 and resulted in one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.

Authorities warned residents of eastern Japan to be prepared for potentially strong aftershocks in the coming days.

es/wd (dpa, AFP)