A series of powerful earthquakes struck off central Japan's west coast on Monday, prompting tsunami warnings and urging residents to seek higher ground. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said the Noto region, west of Japan's main island of Honshu, was hit by a rapid series of earthquakes, starting with a 5.7-magnitude quake at 4:06 p.m. local time.
It was followed four minutes later by a magnitude 7.6 earthquake, followed by magnitude 6.1 at 4:18 pm, magnitude 4.5 at 4:23 pm, magnitude 4.6 at 4:29 pm, and magnitude 4.8 at 4:29 pm. Earthquake at 4:32 p.m.
There were warnings of a tsunami as high as 5 meters (16 feet) in Ishikawa, and presenters on the national broadcaster urged people in the area to leave everything behind and move quickly to higher ground.
“The dangerous tsunami waves from this earthquake are 300 km [about 186 miles] The epicenter of the earthquake was off the coast of Japan,” the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said, while the Japan Meteorological Agency warned of waves up to five meters high.
Power companies that operate nuclear power plants in the region said they were checking for irregularities, but said there were no immediate problems, and the government later appeared to ensure the safety of the plants.
“It has been confirmed that there are no abnormalities at Shiga Nuclear Power Plant [in Ishikawa] and other stations are currently available,” national government spokesman Hayashi Yoshimasa said, according to AFP news agency.
The earthquakes caused damage, however, as video broadcast by NHK showed buildings collapsing in Ishikawa. On the other side of Japan, the network said buildings were all shaken in the capital Tokyo, and Yoshimasa said authorities were still checking the extent of damage in affected areas to the west.
More than 36,000 homes in Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures were without power, Reuters news agency reported, citing utility provider Hokuriku Electric Power.
A big oneIt devastated much of the country's coastline and fueled a nuclear meltdown at Fukushima.