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Massive earthquake triggers tsunami waves

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A powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake has struck western Japan, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said yesterday, prompting immediate tsunami warnings in Ishikawa.

The quake occurred at 16:10 (JST) in the Noto region in Ishikawa Prefecture. Tsunami warnings were also issued for Niigata, Toyama, Yamagata, Fukui and Hyogo prefectures along the Japan Sea coast, Japan’s NHK broadcaster reported.

Shortly after the quake, the Japanese public broadcaster warned torrents of water could reach as high as five metres and urged people to flee to high land or the top of a nearby building as quickly as possible. “All residents must evacuate immediately to higher ground,” national broadcaster NHK said.

Weather agencies said that tsunami waves are possible within 300 kilometres of the epicentre after the earthquake. The JMA said the Noto region, on the Sea of Japan side of Japan’s main island of Honshu, experienced a rapid succession of quakes, starting with a 5.7 magnitude tremor at 4:06 pm local time. This was followed by a 7.6-magnitude quake at 4:10 pm, a 6.1 magnitude quake at 4:18 pm, a 4.5 magnitude one at 4:23 pm, a 4.6 magnitude quake at 4:29 pm, and 4.8 magnitude quake at 4:32 pm. Another quake with a magnitude of 6.2 hit soon after, the US Geological Survey said.

A tsunami of about three metres high was expected to hit Niigata and other prefectures on the western coast of Japan. Smaller tsunami waves were already confirmed to have reached the coastline, NHK reported. The area includes a nuclear plant. Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator, said it was checking for problems but there were no immediate reports of any irregularities.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that authorities are working to assess any damage following Monday’s 7.5 earthquake in western Japan. “In response to the M7 earthquake at Noto region in Ishikawa prefecture, we have immediately set up the Prime Minister’s Office of Response – Disaster Counter Measure HQ,” the Prime Minister wrote on X.

“Based on our policy of putting human lives first, we are making every effort to assess the damage situation and implement emergency disaster response measures. Everyone in the area, please pay close attention to the latest information and make life-saving actions your top priority,” he added.

This latest quake comes a decade after a huge earthquake and tsunami struck the northeastern part of the country on March 11, 2011, devastating towns and triggering nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima. In March 2022, a 7.4-magnitude quake off the coast of Fukushima shook large areas of eastern Japan. (News 18)

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