Series of Powerful Earthquakes Hit Japan
Japan experienced a sequence of strong earthquakes off its west coast, leading to tsunami warnings and urging residents to seek higher ground. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) reported that the Noto region, located on the western side of Japan’s main island of Honshu, was hit by approximately 20 earthquakes. The first quake, with a magnitude of 5.7, struck at 4:06 p.m. local time, followed just four minutes later by a major 7.6-magnitude earthquake. Subsequent temblors included a 6.1 magnitude quake at 4:18 p.m., a 4.5 magnitude one at 4:23 p.m., a 4.6 magnitude quake at 4:29 p.m., and a 4.8 magnitude quake at 4:32 p.m.
Possible Tsunami and Evacuation Warnings
Tsunami waves, initially measuring around four feet high, began hitting Ishikawa prefecture’s Wajima port approximately an hour after the quakes. There were additional warnings of potential tsunami waves as high as 16 feet in Ishikawa. The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center stated that hazardous tsunami waves were possible within 300 km of the epicenter along Japan’s coasts. The Japan Meteorological Agency warned that waves could reach up to five meters high. Broadcasters on NHK advised residents in the region to leave everything behind and move quickly to higher ground.
Nuclear Plants and Safety Measures
Power companies operating nuclear plants in the affected region reported no immediate problems but were conducting checks for irregularities. The Japanese government confirmed the safety of the plants, stating that there were no abnormalities at the Shika nuclear power plant in Ishikawa. However, damage was observed from the earthquakes, with footage aired by NHK showing buildings collapsing in Ishikawa. Authorities were still assessing the extent of damage in the affected regions.
Impact and Damage
Hokuriku Electric Power, a utilities provider, reported that over 36,000 households lost electricity in the Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures. News footage from Japan showed reddish smoke emanating from an area in Wajima city, suggesting a possible fire. A house collapsed in another area, and search and rescue efforts were underway. Bullet trains were halted, sections of the highway were closed, and water pipes burst. Witnesses and Japanese media captured images of huge cracks in the pavement.
Future Quake and Tsunami Risks
The Meteorological Agency warned that more major earthquakes could occur in the region over the next week, particularly in the next two to three days. Tsunami warnings were also issued for Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, as well as parts of North Korea and Russia. Russian officials issued a tsunami alert for the island of Sakhalin, cautioning that the island’s west coast could be affected by the waves. South Korea’s weather agency advised residents in some eastern coastal towns to monitor sea levels for possible changes.