The government on Sunday scrambled to gather information after an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.3 struck off northeastern Japan late the previous night, leaving more than 150 people injured and causing widespread blackouts.
No tsunami accompanied the quake that struck at 11:07 p.m. Saturday and no issues were found at nuclear power plants in the affected region. While there were no reported fatalities, the quake caused a great deal of damage, as evidenced by photographs from the aftermath.
The earthquake disrupted operations of retailers, including supermarkets and convenience stores, and factories in the Tohoku region and parts of Kanto. JR East said Tohoku Shinkansen services between Nasushiobara Station in Tochigi Prefecture and Morioka Station in Iwate Prefecture would be suspended at least until the end of Monday due to damage to overhead wires.
Saturday’s quake is believed to be an aftershock of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, a seismologist said. The 10th anniversary of that quake, tsunami and the ensuing nuclear disaster is just weeks away.
“Because (the 2011 quake) was an enormous one with a magnitude of 9.0, it’s not surprising to have an aftershock of this scale 10 years later,” said Kenji Satake, a professor at the University of Tokyo’s Earthquake Research Institute.
According to the Meteorological Agency, the quake’s seismic intensity — a strong 6 on the Japanese scale of 7 — was the strongest to occur off the country’s northeastern coast since April 7, 2011. The agency also warned that Saturday’s quake could trigger aftershocks of its own of up to a strong 6 on the Japanese scale for at least a week.