Strong tremor off northern Japan kills 4, injures more than 90 – Press Enterprise


TOKYO (AP) — A powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake shook furniture off the coast of Fukushima in northern Japan on Wednesday night, disrupting electricity and killing four people. A small tsunami reached the coast but the low-risk warning was lifted Thursday morning.

The region is part of northern Japan, which was devastated 11 years ago by a deadly magnitude 9.0 quake and tsunami that caused nuclear reactor meltdown and spewed out massive radiation that still makes some parts uninhabitable.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told a parliamentary session Thursday morning that four people died during the quake and the cause of death was under investigation, while 97 others were injured. A man in his 60s in Soma town died after falling from the second floor of his home while trying to evacuate, and a man in his 70s panicked and suffered a heart attack, Kyodo News previously reported.

The Japan Meteorological Agency lifted its low-risk warning for a tsunami along the coasts of Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures early Thursday. 30-centimeter (11-inch) tsunami waves hit the shore at Ishinomaki, about 390 kilometers (242 miles) northeast of Tokyo.

The agency increased the magnitude of the quake to 7.4 from the original 7.3 and the depth to 56 kilometers (35 miles) from 60 kilometers (36 miles) under the sea.

NHK footage showed broken walls of a department store building falling to the ground and shards of windows strewn on the street near the main train station in the prefectural capital of Fukushima. Roads were cracked and water flowed from underground pipes.

The footage also showed furniture and appliances smashed onto the floor in apartments in Fukushima. Cosmetics and other goods in convenience stores fell off the shelves and spilled onto the floor. A power pole almost fell in Yokohama near Tokyo.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, which operates the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant where cooling systems failed after the 2011 disaster, said workers found no abnormalities at the site, which is being decommissioned.

Japan’s nuclear regulator said a fire alarm was sounded at the turbine building of reactor No. 5 at Fukushima Daiichi, but there was no actual fire. Water pumps for the spent fuel cooling pool at two of the four reactors at Fukushima Daini were briefly stopped but later restarted. Fukushima Daini, which survived the 2011 tsunami, is also scheduled to be shut down.

More than 2.2 million homes in 14 prefectures, including the Tokyo area, were temporarily without power, but power was restored in most places by morning except for about 37,000 homes in the hardest-hit Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures, according to the Tohoku Electric Power Co., which serves the region.

The quake shook large parts of eastern Japan, including Tokyo, where buildings swayed violently.

East Japan Railway Co. said most of its train services have been suspended due to security checks. Some local trains later resumed operations.

Many people formed long queues outside major stations while waiting for trains to resume service late Wednesday, but Tokyo trains ran as normal on Thursday morning.

A Tohoku Shinkansen express train between Fukushima and Miyagi partially derailed due to the quake, but no one was injured, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.

He told reporters that the government was assessing the extent of the damage and pledged to do its utmost for rescue and relief efforts.

“Please take action first to save your life,” Kishida tweeted.

Chief of Cabinet Hirokazu Matsuno said authorities are trying to assess the damage. “We do our best in rescue operations and put people’s lives first,” he said.

He urged residents of the affected areas to be extra vigilant for possible major aftershocks for about a week.


Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama contributed to this report.


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