7.3 magnitude earthquake hits northern Japan

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TOKYO (AP) — A powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima in northern Japan Wednesday evening, plunging more than 2 million homes in the Tokyo area into darkness.

The earthquake is not expected to cause a Pacific-wide tsunami threat.

The area is part of northern Japan which was devastated by a deadly 9.0 earthquake and tsunami 11 years ago, which also caused nuclear power plant meltdowns.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, which operates the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant where cooling systems failed after the 2011 disaster, said workers were checking for any damage.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake happened at 11:36 p.m. at a depth of 60 kilometers (36 miles) under the sea.

The agency issued a tsunami advisory for a sea surge of up to one meter (3 feet) in parts of Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. National NHK television said the tsunami had already reached some areas.

Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force said it dispatched fighter jets from Hyakuri base in Ibaraki prefecture, just south of Fukushima, to collect information and assess damage.

More than 2 million homes were without power in the Tokyo area served by TEPCO due to the earthquake, the utility said on its website. The quake shook large parts of eastern Japan, including Tokyo, where buildings swayed violently.

East Japan Railway Co. said most of its train services had been suspended for security checks.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that the government was assessing the extent of the damage and promised to do everything possible for rescue and relief operations.

“Please act first to save your life,” Kishida tweeted.

There are no immediate reports of casualties.

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