Earthquake shakes northern Japan, tsunami risk decreases

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TOKYO—
A powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake hit the coast of Fukushima in northern Japan on Wednesday evening, killing two, triggering a tsunami warning and plunging more than 2 million homes in the Tokyo area into the darkness.

The area is part of northern Japan which was devastated 11 years ago by a deadly 9.0 earthquake and tsunami which also triggered meltdowns at nuclear power plants, spewing massive radiation which still renders some parts uninhabitable .

The Japan Meteorological Agency subsequently lifted its low-risk advisory issued along the Fukushima and Miyagi coasts early Thursday. Tsunami waves of 30 centimeters (11 inches) reached the shore in Ishinomaki, about 390 kilometers (242 miles) northeast of Tokyo.

The agency increased the magnitude of the quake to 7.4 from 7.3 initially.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said two people were killed and 94 others injured, four seriously.

NHK footage showed shattered walls of a department store fallen to the ground and shards of windows strewn across the street near the main station in the city of Fukushima, about 60 kilometers (36 miles) to the west on the side. Roads were cracked and water was leaking from underground pipes.

Footage also showed smashed furniture and appliances on the floor in apartments in Fukushima. Cosmetics and other convenience store merchandise fell off the shelves and strewn across the floor. In Yokohama, near Tokyo, an electric pole almost fell.

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

Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority said a fire alarm went off in the Fukushima Daiichi’s No. 5 reactor turbine building, but there was no actual fire. Water pumps in the spent fuel cooling pool at two of Fukushima Daini’s four reactors briefly stopped, but then resumed operation. Fukushima Daini, which survived the 2011 tsunami, is also to be downgraded.

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

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.

According to the Tohoku Electric Power Co. which serves the area.

The quake rocked 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. Some local trains then resumed service.

Many people formed long queues outside major stations waiting for trains to resume late Wednesday, but trains in Tokyo operated as normal Thursday morning.

A Tohoku Shinkansen express train partially derailed between Fukushima and Miyagi due to the quake, but no one was injured, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.

He 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.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said authorities were working to assess the damage. “We are doing our best in rescue operations and putting people’s lives first,” he said.

He urged people in affected areas to be extra cautious for possible major aftershocks for about a week.

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Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama contributed to this report

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