7.3 magnitude earthquake strikes Japan, Tsunami alert issued

A 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, Japan at 11:36 pm Wednesday, March 16, rocking the capital Tokyo, and triggering a tsunami warning.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake struck at a depth of 60 kilometers, 57 kilometers east northeast of the town of Namie in Fukushima Prefecture.

The earthquake was felt over large areas of northern and eastern Japan with shaking of up to 6+ on a scale of 7 felt in Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures.

Emergency responders in the city of Minamisoma in Fukushima Prefecture say they have received many reports of injuries, structural damage, and fires.

The weather agency issued a 1-meter tsunami warning for the coast of Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures, calling on local residents to stay away from the coast or river estuaries. Tsunami waves of up to 20 centimeters were reported to have reached ports in Miyagi Prefecture as of 12:29 pm local time.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which operates the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that suffered multiple meltdowns following the 2011 quake and tsunami said workers were checking for any possible damage.

TEPCO says it received reports that water pumps of spent fuel storage pools at two reactor buildings in the Fukushima Daiichi plant had stopped functioning. They later confirmed that one of pumps had resumed operation.

TEPCO says it received reports that water pumps of spent fuel storage pools at two reactor buildings in the Fukushima Daini plant had stopped functioning. But they later confirmed that one of them had resumed operation.

The utility says the temperature of the spent nuclear fuel “will not rise immediately,” according to NHK.

More than two million households were left without power, in nine prefectures, including 700,000 in Tokyo, TEPCO said.

At around 1:00 am, NHK reported that railway operator JR East said that a Tohoku Shinkansen train had derailed between Fukushima Station and Shiroishizao Station. None of the 96 passengers aboard were reported injured. The company received a report that part of a train car is leaning off the track.

The quake came only days after the 11th anniversary of the earthquake and Tsunami that devastated the area in 2011. The tsunami left some 18,500 dead or missing.

The Japanese government said agencies will “work together to make every effort to respond” following the quake, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s office wrote on Twitter.

earthquake intensity map following quake that struck off the coast of Fukushima, Japan March 15, 2022
Earthquake intensity map (USGS).
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