Japan issues tsunami alert after 7.3-magnitude earthquake hits near Fukushima

A powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima in northeastern Japan on Wednesday evening, triggering a tsunami advisory and plunging more than two million homes in the Tokyo area into darkness.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The region is part of the same area of ​​the country that was devastated by a deadly 9.0 quake and tsunami 11 years ago that also caused nuclear plant meltdowns. Wednesday’s quake came only days after the area marked the 11th anniversary of the disaster of March 2011.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, which operates the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant where the cooling systems failed after the 2011 disaster, said that workers were checking for any possible damage.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake hit at 11:36 pm at a depth of 60 kilometers below the sea.

Furniture and electrical appliances are scattered at an apartment in Fukushima, northeastern Japan, on Wednesday following the earthquake. (Kyodo News/The Associated Press)

The agency issued a tsunami advisory for up to a metre sea arises in parts of Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. NHK national television said the tsunami might have reached some areas already.

Homes lose power, trains suspended

Japan’s Air Self-Defence Force said it dispatched fighter jets from the Hyakuri base in Ibaraki prefecture, just south of Fukushima, for information gathering and damage assessment.

More than two million homes were without electricity in the Tokyo region serviced by TEPCO due to the quake, the utility said on its website. The quake shook large parts of eastern Japan, including Tokyo, where buildings swayed violently.

East Japan Railway Co. said most of its train services were suspended for safety checks.

Houses and buildings are seen during the power outage in Toshima ward in Tokyo in the early morning hours Thursday. (Issei Kato/Reuters)

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that the government was assessing the extent of damage and promised to do its utmost for rescue and relief operations.

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

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