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Japan hit by powerful earthquake, tsunami warning issued

Japan hit by powerful earthquake, tsunami warning issued Japan hit by powerful earthquake, tsunami warning issued (Getty Images)

Japan has urgently instructed residents to evacuate over a tsunami warning following a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that hit the central part of the country. A tsunami warning has been issued for the coastal areas of Ishikawa, Niigata, and Toyama, cautioning about waves reaching 3-5 meters, according to BBC and Reuters.

Videos depicting the shaking of homes and subway trains and photos of the consequences have been already shared online.

A powerful earthquake struck Japan on January 1 (Kyodo/Reuters)

A sequence of quakes, starting with a 5.7 magnitude tremor at 16:06 local time (07:06 GMT), struck the Noto region. The Japan Meteorological Agency reported a subsequent 7.6-magnitude quake and at least five more tremors within an hour. The quake also shook buildings in Tokyo on the opposite coast.

"Residents need to stay on alert for further possible quakes and I urge people in areas where tsunamis are expected to evacuate as soon as possible," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on local TV, adding that authorities are still assessing the damage.

Kansai Electric, the country's largest nuclear power operator, assured that there were no abnormalities in nuclear plants in the affected area.

Hokuriku Electric Power reported that over 36,000 homes in Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures experienced power outages. Ishikawa's high-speed rail services have been halted. Phone and internet services in Ishikawa and Niigata were disrupted.

Moreover, Japanese airlines turned back planes that were going to Toyama and Ishikawa and canceled most of the flights to Niigata and Ishikawa areas.

Recalling the devastating 2011 events, when Japan experienced a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and a subsequent tsunami that claimed nearly 18,000 lives and displaced tens of thousands, authorities remain alert. The 2011 disaster also led to a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima power plant.

Recent earthquakes

On December 18, 2023, the most powerful earthquake in recent years happened in China with a magnitude of 6.2. It struck remote regions between the Chinese provinces of Gansu and Qinghai. 149 people died, approximately 1,000 people were injured as a result of the earthquake, and over 87,000 individuals were displaced.

On December 17, 2023, an earthquake struck southwestern Turkey in the Mediterranean Sea near the famous resort and tourist pilgrimage site of Fethiye.