Japanese officials say 4 dead after 7.4 earthquake near Fukushima

Walls are fallen at an apartment in Fukushima, northern Japan Thursday, March 17, 2022, following an earthquake. A powerful earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima in northern Japan on Wednesday evening, triggering a tsunami advisory and plunging more than 2 million homes in the Tokyo area into darkness. (Kyodo News via AP)

A strong 7.4 magnitude earthquake shook off the coast near Fukushima, Japan – the site of a nuclear disaster in 2011 – late Wednesday, killing four people according to Japanese officials.

The earthquake, upgraded from an original 7.3 magnitude, knocked out power to more than 2 million customers across the country and injured 97 people, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a parliamentary session Thursday morning. 

The region is part of northern Japan that was devastated by a deadly 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami 11 years ago that also caused nuclear plant meltdowns. That quake and tsunami killed more than 22,000 people. Wednesday’s quake came only days after the area marked the 11th anniversary of the disaster in March 2011.

The 2011 earthquake was 9.1 magnitude, some 63 times stronger, and released about 500 times more energy than Wednesday’s quake, CNN reported. 

The Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, which operates the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant where the cooling systems failed after the 2011 disaster, said workers found no abnormalities at the site, which was in the process of being decommissioned.

Those who died included a man in his 60s in Soma city who fell from the second floor of his house while trying to evacuate and a man in his 70s who panicked and suffered a heart attack, Kyodo News reported earlier.

The U.S. National Weather Service said there was no threat of a tsunami for the U.S. West Coast, British Columbia, or Alaska, and the Japan Meteorological Agency dropped its low-risk tsunami advisory early Thursday.

Tsunami waves of 8 inches reached shore in Ishinomaki, about 242 miles northeast of Tokyo, according NHK national television.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake struck 36 miles below the sea. The quake shook large parts of eastern Japan, including Tokyo, where buildings shook violently.

The quake hit at 10:36 a.m. ET, the U.S. Geological Survey said. 


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