A magnitude 7.4 quake has struck off the Japanese coast near Fukushima, triggering a tsunami warning. The region suffered a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in 2011, causing a meltdown at a nearby nuclear plant.
A major earthquake hit northeastern Japan early on Tuesday, causing authorities to issue a tsunami warning and thousands of residents to be evacuated from their homes. The 7.4 magnitude quake struck off the coast of Fukushima, home to a nuclear power plant that suffered a dangerous meltdown after a massive offshore tremor caused a tsunami in 2011.
The earthquake was also felt in Tokyo, some 285 kilometers (177 miles) away.
Japan’s Meteorological Agency warned coastal residents that the waves could be 3 meters (10 feet) high and urged them to flee to higher ground. Once the waves reached shore, however, they appeared to be about 1.40 meters tall.
Tsunami warnings were also issued for the prefectures of Miyagi, Ibaraki, Aomori, and Chiba. The warnings were lifted after a few hours.
The quake that caused the Fukushima meltdown, one of the worst atomic disasters in history, was magnitude 9.1 and sent a 40.5 meter (133 feet) wave over the town. Some 18,000 people were killed and more than 220,000 displaced by the catastrophe. Japanese authorities have issued a statement saying there were no abnormalities at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station as the waves made landfall.
Speaking from Buenos Aires, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised to do his utmost to respond to the earthquake. Initial reports indicated that there had been no deaths, and only minor injuries.
After the 2011 incident, all nuclear plants near Japan's coasts were shut down as a precaution. Only two are currently operating, both in the southwest of the country.
es/bw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)