Quake measuring 7.3 hits off Japan near Fukushima

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 07, 2012 21:02 hrs

pA strong quake centered off northeastern Japan shook buildings as far away as Tokyo on Friday and triggered a one-meter tsunami in an area devastated by last years Fukushima disaster but there were no reports of deaths or serious damageppThe quake had a preliminary magnitude of 73 the US Geological Survey said and thousands of coastal residents were ordered to evacuate to higher ground but the tsunami warning was lifted two hours after the tremor struckppThe March 2011 earthquake and following tsunami killed nearly 20000 people and triggered the worlds worst nuclear crisis in 25 years when the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant was destroyed leaking radiation into the sea and airppWorkers at the plant were ordered to move to safety after Fridays quake Tokyo Electric Power Co the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant reported no irregularities at its nuclear plantsppAll but two of Japans 50 nuclear reactors have been idled since the Fukushima disaster as the government reviews safetyppThe quake measured a "lower 5" in Miyagi prefecture on Japans scale of one to seven meaning there might be some damage to roads and houses that are less quake resistantppThe scale measures the amount of shaking and in that sense gives a better idea of possible damage than the magnitude The quake registered a 4 in TokyoppThe one-meter tsunami hit at Ishinomaki in Miyagi at the centre of the devastation from the March 2011 disaster All Miyagi trains halted operations and Sendai airport which was flooded by the tsunami last year closed its runwayppFive people in the prefecture were slightly injuredpp"I was in the centre of the city the very moment the earthquake struck I immediately jumped into the car and started running away towards the mountains Im still hiding inside the car" said Ishinomaki resident Chikako Iwaipp"I have the radio on and they say the cars are still stuck in the traffic Im planning to stay here for the next couple of hours"ppThere are vast areas of Ishinomaki that still have not been cleaned up since last years tsunami Many houses lie in ruins full of rubble Workers by the shore still sort through thousands of cars that were swamped and destroyed The cars are piled up and being taken apart for parts and scrapppNarita airport outside Tokyo was back in action after a brief closure for safety checks There were small tsunamis measuring in the centimeters elsewhere near the epicenterppLast years quake which measured 90 triggered fuel-rod meltdowns at Fukushima causing radiation leakage contamination of food and water and mass evacuations Much of the area is still desertedppThe government declared in December that the disaster was under controlpp"Citizens are now escaping to designated evacuation centers and moving to places on higher ground" office worker Naoki Ara said in Soma 30 km 18 miles from the Fukushima-Daiichi plantppPrime Minister Yoshihiko Noda cancelled campaigning in Tokyo ahead of a December 16 election and was on his way back to his office but there was no immediate plan to hold a special cabinet meetingppPublic spending on quake-proofing buildings is a big election issueppJapanese were posting photos of their TV screens with tsunami warnings on Facebook asking each other whether theyre safe confirming their whereaboutspp"It shook for a long time here in Tokyo are you guys all right" posted Eriko Hamada enquiring about the safety of her friendsppPhone lines were overloaded and it was difficult to contact residents of Miyagipp"Owing to the recent earthquake phone lines are very busy please try again later" the operator saidppThe yen rose against the dollar and the euro on the news triggering some safe-haven inflows into the Japanese currencyppJapan is one of the worlds most earthquake-prone countries with a tremor occurring at least every five minutesppLocated in the "Ring of Fire" arc of volcanoes and oceanic trenches partly encircling the Pacific Basin the country accounts for about 20 per cent of the worlds earthquakes of magnitude 60 or greaterppTokyo with a population of 12 million sits on the junction of four tectonic plates the Eurasian North American Philippine and Pacific The sudden bending or breaking of any plate can trigger an earthquakep

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