A massive earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.6 has hit Ishikawa in central Japan, triggering a tsunami warning and advisories for residents to evacuate and prepare for possible aftershocks.
A tsunami around 1 metre high (3.3 feet) struck parts of the west coast along the Sea of Japan, with a larger wave expected, public broadcaster NHK reported Monday.
The Japan Meteorological Agency has issued tsunami warnings for the coastal prefectures of Ishikawa, Niigata and Toyama.
“All residents must evacuate immediately to higher ground,” NHK said after the quake hit the Noto region in Ishikawa prefecture around 4:10pm local time (07:10 GMT). It said another earthquake warning had been issued for Ishikawa.
Hazardous tsunami waves of up to 5 metres high (16.4 feet) were possible along the north coast of central Japan within 300km (186 miles) of a magnitude 7.5 quake’s epicentre, US and Japanese agencies said.
Top government spokesperson Yoshimasa Hayashi said in an emergency news 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, and tremors shook buildings in the capital Tokyo on the opposite coast.
More than 36,000 households lost power in Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures, utilities provider Hokuriku Electric Power said.
Hokuriku’s Shika plant in Ishikawa, which was located the closest to the quake’s epicentre, had already halted its two reactors before the quake for regular inspection and saw no impact from the quake, the agency said.
South Korea’s meteorological agency said the sea level in some parts of the Gangwon province on the east coast may rise.
Japan is one of the countries in the world most at risk from earthquakes. A huge earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, killing nearly 20,000 people, devastating towns and triggering nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima.
Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said no irregularities have been confirmed 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.