A powerful earthquake measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale that struck Japan’s northeastern coast late Wednesday, killed two and injured 81, according to public broadcaster NHK.

But a tsunami warning has been lifted and power, initially lost to more than 2 million households, has largely been restored.

The quake was strongly felt in Tokyo, where buildings swayed for more than a minute. NHK said a 96-passenger high-speed train had derailed, but there were no reports of injuries.

The first earthquake was followed by a powerful aftershock, and the country’s meteorological agency warned of more shocks in the coming days.

The earthquake struck at 11:36 p.m. local time and triggered a tsunami warning for coastal areas including the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that was hit by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake in 2011. That earthquake triggered a massive tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people. and massive mass evacuations around the nuclear power plant.

But the Japan Meteorological Agency reported sightings of tsunamis just 20cm or less after Wednesday’s earthquake, which struck some 60km below sea level. The tsunami alert has been lifted.

Tokyo Electric, which operates the Fukushima Daiichi plant, said it had not detected anomalies in radioactivity levels. Fire alarms that went off in a building housing one of the plant’s reactors, where decommissioning works are underway, were found to be false, the company said.

It added that pumps enabling the cooling of fuel rods in two reactors at the neighboring Fukushima Daini plant, which had been shut down due to the earthquake, have been restarted.

In the immediate aftermath, emergency services ordered people to stay away from the coast and estuaries, and said people should seek higher ground in the immediate vicinity of the sea.

“There were two shocks. The first wasn’t that bad, but the second was extremely powerful,” Hiroko Watanabe, a Fukushima resident who runs a small business in the city, told the Financial Times shortly after the quake. “There is a power outage in the area and my house is pitch dark. Let’s hope they get it sorted by morning.”

Yumiko Ohashi, a retiree in northern Japan’s Sendai city, said the shaking had caused a number of items to fall off the shelves. Neighbors began to gather in the street. “I think everyone is fine here. Unfortunately, we’re used to this,” she says.

Immediately after the earthquake, there were power outages in central Tokyo and fire trucks were on the street with sirens blaring. About 100,000 people in northeastern Japan were still without power on Thursday morning, the local utility said.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the government was making “efforts to understand the situation, provide support to victims along with local authorities and provide information to people”.

The government has set up a calamity agency. Kishida ordered officials to gather information and make every effort to help the injured and respond to those affected by the earthquake.

The magnitude of the quake was initially reported at 7.3 and later updated to 7.4.


This post Powerful earthquake in Japan leaves two dead and dozens injured was original published at “https://www.ft.com/content/b5f872db-1661-435e-9907-e05a6d1caf06”

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