Monday, July 11, 2011

Kyodo news: No reports of injuries, damage from M7.3 quake in northeastern Japan

 Areas in northeastern Japan hard hit by the March 11 mega earthquake and ensuing tsunami were jolted again Sunday morning by a strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.3, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

 There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the 9:57 a.m. quake, which registered 4 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in parts of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures including an area in the Iwate capital of Morioka.
 A warning for tsunami of up to 50 cm was issued for Pacific coastal areas of the three prefectures immediately after the quake, but was lifted at 11:45 a.m. after 10-cm tsunami waves were observed at Ofunato port in Iwate at 10:44 a.m. and at Soma port in Fukushima at 11:11 a.m., while another 10-cm tsunami reached Ofunato port at 11:20 a.m., according to the agency.
 It was the first time tsunamis were actually observed in Japan since the March 11 disaster.
 The focus of the quake was about 180 km off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture at a depth of about 34 km, the agency said, adding the quake is considered to be an aftershock of the March mega quake.
 It was the first time that the agency issued a tsunami warning since June 23, when a magnitude 6.7 quake shook the northeastern region.
 Sunday's quake was the first in the magnitude 7 class to rock areas devastated by the March quake since a magnitude 7.0 temblor struck on April 11.
 The agency initially put the preliminary magnitude of Sunday's quake at 7.1 but later revised it to 7.3.
 "(Magnitude 7-class quakes) may occur occasionally between magnitude 3- to 5-class quakes that could occur frequently," an official at the agency said in a press conference. "Continued vigilance will be required over coming years," he added.
 Following Sunday's quake, the town of Otsuchi in Iwate and the city of Higashimatsushima in Miyagi issued evacuation directives, while other local municipalities in the coastal areas of northeastern Japan issued evacuation recommendations for their residents.
 The coastal areas of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures were severely damaged by the March disaster, which has taken the lives of more than 15,500 people. More than 5,300 people are still missing as of Sunday.
 Sunday's quake measured 3 on the Japanese scale in other parts of the three prefectures as well as some parts of Hokkaido, Aomori, Akita and Yamagata prefectures, downtown Tokyo and other eastern Japan prefectures. Shaking was also felt in some parts of the Kinki region in western Japan.
 Tokyo Electric Power Co. said no abnormalities were observed at its Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants following the quake.
 The utility, however, temporarily evacuated those working near the coast at the Daiichi plant — where workers are trying to contain a nuclear crisis triggered by the March disaster — to higher ground to prepare for a possible tsunami, it said.
 No abnormalities were reported either at Tohoku Electric Power Co.'s Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi Prefecture, according to the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
 East Japan Railway Co. said the Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train service was temporarily suspended immediately after the quake but resumed shortly afterward.


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