Two quakes shake Tohoku; small tsunami hits coast

JIJI, Reuters, AFP-JIJI, Staff Report

An earthquake measuring upper-5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 shook Aomori Prefecture and other parts of the north on Tuesday afternoon, hours after another temblor triggered a small tsunami.

The second instance did not result in a tsunami alert.

The quake struck at 1:46 p.m. The Japan Meteorological Agency described it as magnitude 5.7, with an epicenter around 50 km off the coast of Iwate Prefecture and 50 km deep.

One of the hardest-hit districts was the town of Hashikami, where upper-5 was recorded. It registered as 5-weak in the village of Fudai in Iwate Prefecture.

There were no reported problems at nuclear plants in the area, Kyodo reported.

Earlier in the day, a small tsunami struck the coast of Iwate Prefecture, with a maximum surge of 20 cm recorded at one location.

The tsunami was triggered by a subsea quake with an estimated magnitude of 6.9. It struck on Tuesday morning about 210 km east of the city of Miyako and 10 km deep, the agency said.

Sirens sounded as residents sought higher ground. The largest tsunami waves were measured between 8:35 a.m. and 9:07 a.m. at a port in the city of Kuji, and a 10-cm surge was recorded in Miyako. A smaller tsunami reached the city of Kamaishi, the agency said.

Evacuation orders were issued for residents in coastal districts of Kuji and the town of Otsuchi, and evacuation advisories for the cities of Ofunato and Rikuzentakata as well as Kamaishi.

The Iwate Prefectural Government reported no damage from the waves.

The quake hit at 8:06 a.m. It measured 4 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in Iwate and three other prefectures in Tohoku — Aomori, Akita and Miyagi.

The quake was believed to be an aftershock of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that hit the Tohoku region on March 11, 2011, the meteorological agency said.

Tohoku Electric Power Co., which operates the Onagawa and Higashidori nuclear plants in nearby Miyagi and Aomori prefectures, said it saw no irregularities at the facilities after the quake.

All 48 of Japan’s workable nuclear reactors remain offline after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered the Fukushima No. 1 plant meltdown disaster.

A spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of Fukushima No. 1 and Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plants, said there were no irregularities at the plants. The quake was felt only weakly in the area, he said.

Unlisted Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. also said there were no irregularities recorded at its nuclear fuel reprocessing facility or other plants in Aomori.

East Japan Railway Co. briefly halted Tohoku Shinkansen bullet trains between Furukawa Station in Miyagi and Shin-Aomori Station in Aomori amid a power failure.

The evacuation instructions and advisories were lifted at 10:20 a.m.

Large areas of the coastline covered by Tuesday’s warning were damaged by the 2011 quake and tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people and triggered a nuclear disaster.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world’s most seismically active areas. The nation accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

  • Earthman

    The real question is whats happening at the Fukushima reactors?I’m sure the rest of the planet wold also like to know.

    • Shiki Byakko

      You can look the latests news at Tepco’s web site. But let’s be honest and admit you are not going to read hundreds of pages explaining technical stuff.

    • gnirol

      There is no reason to imagine that anything happened at Fukushima because of these two quakes, which produced minor shaking at the nuclear power plant site. My concern is that four years ago a 7.0 magnitude quake under the ocean preceded the 9.0 quake by two days. The JMA says that the conditions are not the same as two days before 3/11/11 and therefore this is most likely an aftershock from 3/11, not a precursor to a new disaster. Considering that Chile still experiences major aftershocks from its 9.2 quake, that is a perfectly plausible argument. Then again, let’s remember “Saddam Hussein has WMD’s” and lots of other later disproven arguments sounded plausible the first time we heard them too. We are more likely to know what we’re going to have for dinner in the next week than seismologists know what the earth’s crust is going to do in the same time period. Not their fault. Nature’s “terrorism” is totally unpredictable.

      • Earthman

        Well articulated,Thanks.