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Japan issues tsunami warnings for west coast after 7.6 magnitude earthquake

Japan issues tsunami warnings for west coast after 7.6 magnitude earthquake

Japan has issued tsunami warnings for three of its central west coast prefectures after a series of earthquakes in the Sea of Japan, one with a preliminary magnitude of 7.6.

A tsunami of 1.2 metres was confirmed to have arrived in Wajima city, in Ishikawa prefecture. The Japanese public broadcaster NHK warned torrents of water could reach as high as 5 metres.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued tsunami warnings for the prefectures of Ishikawa, Niigata and Toyama.

Eleven significant tremors struck between 4.06pm and 4.48pm, with the strongest ones, at magnitude 7.6 and 7 on the Japanese seismic scale, being recorded at 4.10pm off the Noto Peninsula, in Ishikawa prefecture. Buildings shook 190 miles (300km) away in Tokyo.

Map of Japan

NHK issued warnings urging people to evacuate quickly to higher ground and beware of aftershocks and further tsunami.

A government spokesperson, Hayashi Yoshimasa, said in an emergency press conference that authorities were still checking the extent of the damage and warned residents to prepare for possible further quakes.

Footage aired by NHK appeared to show buildings collapsing in Ishikawa. More than 36,000 households lost power in Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures, according to the utilities provider Hokuriku Electric Power.

Earthquakes that strike off the Sea of Japan coast are known to cause tsunami which can reach shore in less than 10 minutes, faster than those on the Pacific coast. The magnitude 9 earthquake of 2011 triggered a tsunami that took approximately 30 minutes before it hit the coastline.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said no irregularities had been reported at nuclear power plants along the Sea of Japan, including five active reactors at Kansai Electric Power’s Ohi and Takahama plants, in Fukui prefecture.

A US Geological Survey map shows the location of the earthquake in Ishikawa prefecture, western central Japan. Photograph: USGS/EPA

Hokuriku’s Shika plant in Ishikawa, which was the closest to the quake’s location, had already halted its two reactors before the quake for a regular inspection and experienced no impact from the quake, the agency said.

Japan is a quake-prone nation. A huge earthquake and tsunami that struck north-eastern Japan on 11 March 2011 killed 18,000 people. The disaster devastated towns and triggered nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima. Nearly all of Japan’s nuclear power plants have been mothballed since the disaster.

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