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Strong Earthquakes in Japan Prompt Tsunami Warning, Later Lifted

Evacuation notice in Japan | Image Credit: AP
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The deadly 7.5-magnitude quake occurred at a relatively shallow depth along the central area of Japan’s western coast, and was quickly followed by others.

A series of earthquakes rocked Japan on New Year’s Day at about 4pm local time (3pm Malaysia time), with the strongest yet registering 7.6 magnitude.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued tsunami warnings to the coastal prefectures of Ishikawa, Niigata, and Toyama. Footage aired locally appeared to show buildings collapsing in Ishikawa prefecture, and tremors shook buildings in the capital Tokyo on the opposite coast.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK TV warned the waves could reach as high as 5 meters and urged people on the entire west coast to evacuate to the highest place as soon as possible.

The tsunami warnings were later lifted, but an advisory remained in place.

Tsunami warning risk map following the 7.5-magnitude quake, noted by the X | Image Credit: Business Today

The JMA said the Noto region, on the Sea of Japan side of Japan’s main island of Honshu, experienced a succession of quakes in a short period of time, starting with a 5.7 magnitude tremor at 4:06pm local time.

This was followed by a 7.5-magnitude quake at 4.10pm, a 6.1-magnitude quake at 4.18pm, a 4.5-magnitude one at 4.23pm, a 4.6-magnitude quake at 4.29pm, and a 4.8-magnitude quake at 4.32pm.

Another quake with a magnitude of 6.2 hit soon after, the US Geological Survey said.

At least six deaths have been attributed to the quakes.

Earthquake damage at a shrine in Kanazawa, Ishikawa prefecture, Jan 1, 2024 | Image Credit: Kyodo News

The largest of the quakes prompted broadcasters to switch to special programming and make urgent calls for affected residents to leave for higher ground.

“We realise your home, your belongings are all precious to you, but your lives are important above everything else. Run to the highest ground possible,” a presenter on broadcaster NHK told viewers.

A collapsed house in Wajima, Ishikawa prefecture | Image Credit: Reuters
Road damage in Wajima City, Jan 1, 2024 | Image Credit: Reuters

Videos posted to social media showed the aftermath of the quake, some showing damage to buildings, others with store aisles strewn with goods. One video shot from inside a train showed the signs on the platform shaking violently with the tremor.

Nearly 33,000 homes in Ishikawa prefecture were without power following the earthquake, according to Hokuriku Electric Power.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Kansai Electric said in a statement that no abnormalities had been reported at nuclear power plants in the area.


Japan is no stranger to strong earthquakes. In fact, the country maintains rigorous construction standards aimed at ensuring buildings can withstand powerful earthquakes, and regular emergency drills are conducted to prepare for significant seismic events.

Yet, the nation is still traumatised by the colossal 9.0-to-9.1-magnitude undersea earthquake off northeastern Japan which struck on March 11, 2011. This massive quake, the world’s fourth-most powerful since seismography began in 1900, triggered devastating tsunamis which resulted in widespread destruction, over 19,700 deaths, and thousands more injured or missing.

The aftermath of the 2011 quake and tsunami also saw three reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant plunge into meltdown, marking Japan’s most severe post-war disaster and the gravest nuclear incident worldwide since Chernobyl.

In March 2022, another quake, measuring 7.4 in magnitude, struck off the coast of Fukushima, causing widespread destruction in eastern Japan and claiming three lives.

The historical annals also reveal that Tokyo, the capital, saw profound devastation from a massive earthquake a century ago in 1923.

This is a developing story and is being periodically updated.

Wires and stories from multiple news agencies contributed to this article.


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