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13 Feb, 2021 14:20

Tokyo & Fukushima shaken hard as powerful 7+ earthquake strikes off Japan’s east coast

Tokyo & Fukushima shaken hard as powerful 7+ earthquake strikes off Japan’s east coast

A 7-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan’s Fukushima prefecture on Saturday, violently shaking cities on the eastern seaboard and prompting fears of a tsunami, weeks before the 2011 nuclear disaster’s anniversary.

Several seismological agencies have put the magnitude of the quake, which hit east of Japan’s largest island of Honshu, at 7.0 or higher.  

It was also registered as the highest possible on the Japan Meteorological Agency Seismic Intensity Scale. A 7 quake in Japan indicates a violent, heavy earthquake that can shake people and objects around, destroy buildings, and crack the ground.

The earthquake prompted fears of a potential tsunami, but the threat was soon called off.

At least 20 people were reportedly injured in the Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, while around 950,000 homes lost electricity. No buildings in Fukushima reportedly sustained major damage. For context, nearly 16,000 deaths and more than 6,000 injuries were recorded, following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, with a further 2,500 people being reported missing.

English speakers in Japan took to social media to express their shock at the earthquake, which some described as far more violent than any they had previously experienced.

“In more than 7 years in Japan, that was the strongest, longest and scariest quake I’ve ever felt,” one user wrote, while a Japanese Twitch streamer claimed the earthquake made her jump out of bed.

The earthquake led to power outages in the affected regions, and videos showed intense shaking inside homes, with furniture rattling and possessions flying off surfaces. A 4.9-magnitude aftershock was recorded half an hour after the quake initially hit.

It also sparked fears of a repeat of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, when a severe earthquake generated a tsunami and the worst nuclear incident since Chernobyl in 1986. March 11 marks the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster. 

No issues were reportedly found at the Fukushima nuclear power plant after Saturday’s quake, the Kyodo news agency said.

University of Tokyo Earthquake Research Institute Professor Kenji Satake claimed the Saturday earthquake was an aftershock of the earthquake in 2011.

“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,” he commented, explaining that there was no tsunami this time because of the earthquake’s comparatively deep epicenter.

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