Four dead, thousands without power after Japan quake rattles east coast - GulfToday

Four dead, thousands without power after Japan quake rattles east coast


A damaged house is seen following an earthquake in Kunimi, Fukushima prefecture on Thursday. AP

Gulf Today Report

Tens of thousands of Japanese households remained without power on Thursday morning after a magnitude 7.4 quake struck shortly before midnight, throwing a swathe of northeastern Japan into darkness, severing key transportation links and killing four.

Residents in Fukushima and Miyagi were cleaning their homes after a sleepless night following the earthquake that struck off the northern Japanese coasts.


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The region is part of an area devastated by a deadly 9.0 quake and tsunami 11 years ago that caused nuclear reactor meltdowns, spewing massive radiation that still makes some parts uninhabitable.

A collapsed barn is seen in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture on Thursday. AFP

The temblor revived memories of Japan's biggest quake, of magnitude 9.1, which struck on March 11, 2011 in the same area and which includes Fukushima prefecture and a nuclear power plant crippled by a tsunami and meltdown. It left a Shinkansen bullet train service indefinitely suspended, and at least one major highway to the region closed for safety checks.

"This one felt different (to the 2011 quake), it was huge. I had to hang on to something to stay upright," said Aoi Hoshino, who owns a bar in Fukushima and had customers when the quake struck.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters Thursday morning that four people died during the quake and the cause of their deaths are being investigated, while 107 others were injured. A man in his 60s in Soma city died after falling from the second floor of his house while trying to evacuate, and a man in his 70s panicked and suffered a heart attack, Kyodo News reported earlier.

A partially derailed express train sits following an earthquake in Shiroishi, Miyagi prefecture, Japan. AP

The Japan Meteorological Agency early Thursday lifted its low-risk advisory for a tsunami along the coasts of Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures. Tsunami waves as high as 30 centimetres (11 inches) reached shore in Ishinomaki, about 390 kilometres (240 miles) northeast of Tokyo.

The agency upgraded the magnitude of the quake to 7.4 from the initial 7.3, and the depth from 60 kilometres (37 miles) below the sea to 56 kilometres (35 miles).

Companies including Toyota Motor Corp and chipmaker Renesas Electronics Corp raced to assess the impact, with any supply chain disruption likely to add pressure to strained global output of smartphones, electronics and automobiles.

One of her customers shrugged off the initial tremors, but when the biggest one hit he stood up and shouted, "This is a big one!" she recalled.

Scattered goods caused by an earthquake are seen at a store in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, Japan. Reuters

The damage was minimal save a few framed pictures and cups that fell, thanks to rails Hoshino had added to shelves to stop bottles from falling in the event of an earthquake.

"For a while my hands wouldn't stop shaking," she said.

Parts of building facades tumbled into streets in some areas. Television footage showed a steep tiled roof crumpled over a parked, crushed car and workers examining cracked highways.

About 300km (186 miles) south of Fukushima, areas of the capital Tokyo lost power immediately after the quake, though most regained it within three hours.



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