Powerful magnitude 7,3 earthquake jolts Japan’s Tohoku area
A powerful magnitude 7,3 earthquake struck late Saturday, 13 February 2021, off the coast of Tohoku, leaving at least 100 people injured across six prefectures just weeks before the 10th anniversary of the March 2011 quake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. The quake, which measured a strong 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale, the second-highest level, jolted Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures in the Tohoku region. The quake, which was also felt in Tokyo, where it registered a four on the Japanese scale, struck at around 23h07. The epicentre was off the coast of Fukushima, about 220 kilometres (135 miles) north of Tokyo. Its focus was estimated to be at a depth of about 55 kilometres. No tsunami warning was issued but the earthquake was the strongest to hit the region since 7 April 2011, the Meteorology Agency said.
People were reported injured in Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Saitama and Chiba prefectures but no serious injuries were confirmed. Nationwide, at least 950 000 homes temporarily lost power but that was mostly resolved as of Sunday morning. Many houses and buildings were damaged and at least 240 people in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures temporarily took shelter at evacuation centres. In Fukushima, around 70 evacuation centres have been set up and 203 people were taking shelter, according to the prefectural Government.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said during a meeting of Cabinet ministers Sunday morning that no deaths had been reported in the quake but urged vigilance amid the prospect of continued aftershocks up to a strong 6 on the Japanese scale. “We urge the people in the affected areas to continuously pay attention to information from entities such as municipalities, be on alert and be ready to act fast and consider weather changes after tomorrow,” Suga said.
Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi directed the Self-Defence Forces to gather information on the scope of the damage and be prepared to respond immediately. Minister Kishi said on Sunday morning that the SDF would be dispatched immediately if there were requests from local municipalities.
“Because (the 2011 quake) was an enormous one with a magnitude of 9.0, it’s not surprising to have an aftershock of this scale 10 years later,” said Kenji Satake, a professor at the University of Tokyo’s Earthquake Research Institute.
The quake registered a strong 6 in the southern part of Miyagi and in the Nakadori central and Hamadori coastal regions of Fukushima, the Meteorological Agency said.
No abnormalities had initially been detected at the Fukushima Nos 1 and 2 nuclear power plants, according to Tokyo Electric Power but the Sankei newspaper later reported water at the spent fuel pools of the No 1 plant’s reactors 5 and 6 buildings had partially spilled over. The spillage was limited to inside the buildings.
Meanwhile, Japan Atomic Power Co.’s inactive Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant in the village of Tokai in Ibaraki Prefecture and Tohoku Electric Power Co’s Onagawa nuclear plant in Miyagi Prefecture both reported no abnormalities, according to their operators.
Power outages had been reported in parts of Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate and Tochigi prefectures.
Sources: Japan Times, The Straights Times, BBC