7 Dec 2012

Japan tsunami scare after offshore earthquake

A 7.3 magnitude earthquake off the coast of north-eastern Japan shakes buildings as far away as Tokyo but early fears of a tsunami and devastation on the scale of the March 2011 disaster have receded.

The strong quake triggered a one-metre tsunami in the Miyagi prefecture but other tsunami warnings were lifted two hours after the tremor struck.

The earthquake sparked initial concerns for areas still recovering from the triple disaster that hit Japan in March 2011, when a major quake caused a tsunami and then a nuclear emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, but it appears the country has escaped the worst.

So far, there have been no immediate reports of death or injury as a result of the latest quake, and no irregularities reported at the Fukushima nuclear facility, although workers have been ordered to move to higher ground.

Initial reports from the US Geological Survey suggested that the 7.3 magnitude quake was also unlikely to cause a widespread tsunami across the Pacific.

‘Under control’

The one-metre tsunami in Miyagi prefecture halted trains and grounded planes, hitting Ishinomaki, an area badly damaged by the March 2011 disaster where there are still vast areas that have not yet been cleaned up.

The March 2011 earthquake and following tsunami killed nearly 20,000 people and lead to the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years when damage at the Fukushima plant saw radiation leak into the surrounding air and sea.

Much of the area around Fukushima is still deserted, although the Japanese government declared in December that the disaster was under control.