A powerful 6.9-magnitude earthquake hit northeastern Japan on Tuesday, triggering tsunamis along the coast including a one-metre (3.3-foot) wave that crashed ashore at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant.
The quake struck on Tuesday morning at about 06:00 local time (2:30 am IST on Tuesday), the Japan Meteorological Agency said, adding that the epicentre of the quake, which was felt in Tokyo, was off the coast of Fukushima prefecture at a depth of about 25km, the agency said.
A 60cm (2ft) tsunami was observed at Fukushima’s Onahama Port and a 1.4 meter (4.5ft) tsunami at Sendai shortly after the quake, according to public broadcaster NHK.
“We saw high waves but nothing that went over the tidal barriers,” a man in the city of Iwaki told the NTV television network.
The Japan Meteorological Agency advisory said: “Damage due to tsunami waves is expected. Evacuate immediately from coastal regions and riverside areas to a safer place such as high ground or an evacuation building. Tsunami waves are expected to hit repeatedly. Do not leave safe ground until the warning is lifted.”
NHK showed footage of what appeared to be sea water flowing up a river in Miyagi prefecture though none of it surged beyond the river’s banks.
Shinkansen bullet train services were temporarily suspended in the region and Sendai airport in Miyagi, north of Fukushima, was closed.
Authorities said that a total of six people were lightly injured including five in Fukushima prefecture and one in Chiba prefecture east of Tokyo, while two other people were hurt in Miyagi prefecture.
In 2011, an earthquake and tsunami struck the same area killing thousands and destroying parts of the coastline.
All Japan’s nuclear power plants on the coast threatened by the tsunami are shut down in the wake of the March 2011 disaster, which knocked out Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, spilling radiation into the air and sea.
A spokeswoman for Tokyo Electric Power, known as Tepco, told Reuters the cooling system for a storage pool for spent nuclear fuel at the reactor at its Fukushima Daini Plant had been halted. A spokesman said the cooling system had restarted soon after.
No other damage from the quake has been confirmed at any of its power plants, although there have been blackouts in some areas, the spokeswoman said.