A small tsunami was measured Tuesday night in northwestern Japan following a strong earthquake, but the tsunami warning was lifted two and a half hours later, no major damage or serious injury not reported immediately.
The magnitude of this earthquake occurred at 22H22 local (13H22 GMT) was 6.4 according to the measurements of the USGS geophysical institute. The Japanese National Weather Agency evaluated it using a different method at 6.7, after an initial estimate of 6.8.
A one-meter tsunami was expected on part of the northwestern coast of Honshu Island (the main archipelago) along the Yamagata, Niigata and Ishikawa prefectures, estimated by Weather agency. It found a small tsunami in at least five points a little later, but lifted the notice around 01:00 Wednesday (Tuesday 16:00 GMT).
The authorities nevertheless recommend staying away from the coast as a precaution.
Some 600 people have taken refuge in public buildings in Murakami (Niigata prefecture), the most shaken area.
“Really strong shocks have been felt,” commented a commentator on NHK, which immediately interrupted its programs to broadcast information about the earthquake felt in a very large part of Honshu, including Tokyo.
In particular, the tremors reached an intensity of 6+ on the Japanese scale felt in several localities, a level at which it is considered difficult to maintain standing. Falls of furniture or objects are then feared.
– Stopped trains –
NHK cameras that are triggered automatically in the event of an earthquake showed fear in one of the local offices of the chain at the time of the earthquake.
The emergency services call centers are saturated, power cuts are reported, gas leaks are reported and trains stopped, the NHK said at first, but the situation seemed to calm down afterwards.
Road sections have also been closed.
The utilities did not report any anomalies in the facilities within the affected perimeter.
According to a witness, customers of a bar have left the scene after the bottles and other objects have fallen, but the media and authorities have not reported any major damage in the most shaken area at this stage.
“At the moment we have not received a report of damage or injured people” seriously, told AFP a local official of the prefecture of Niigata in the next hour.
Firefighters reported two wounded women, a sexagenarian and another 82, who “fell because of the earthquake but are conscious”. The NHK reported several other cases, all of which were deemed not serious.
The earthquake occurred in the middle of the night in a largely rural area, making it difficult to assess the damage quickly. NHK mentioned landslides, but authorities said they were not aware of such damage.
The government has set up a special cell to monitor the situation, spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
“We will take all measures in close contact with the relief services and local authorities,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the cameras.
– A region often shaken –
“It is quite possible that new strong shakes occur, be vigilant,” warned an expert from the weather agency.
Secondary earthquakes may be more powerful than the first.
Japan is located at the junction of four tectonic plates and suffers annually about 20% of the most violent earthquakes recorded on the planet.
All the Japanese remember the tsunami of March 11, 2011, which, after a magnitude 9 earthquake, killed 18,500 people and caused the Fukushima nuclear accident.
The Niigata region (north-west) was affected by deadly earthquakes in 2004 and 2007, which led to the shutdown of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power station, the largest in the country with 7 reactors.