Japan earthquake mapped: Series of powerful tremors triggers tsunami warnings across region

Several people are missing after houses collapse and roads crumble after massive quakes

Shweta Sharma
Monday 01 January 2024 12:54 GMT
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Moment powerful earthquake hits Japan

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Japan is on high alert after a series of powerful earthquakes, including one registering as magnitude 7.6, rattled north-central parts of the country on New Year’s Day.

The earthquakes have triggered a number of tsunami warnings with 3ft (1m) waves already slamming the west coast along the Sea of Japan, with larger waves as high as 10ft expected.

A succession of 30 earthquakes, each registering between 4 to 6.2, hit central Japan in the span of just 90 minutes on Monday afternoon, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

The first earthquake was reported at 4.10pm local time with its epicentre at Suzu city in Noto Peninsula of Ishikawa Prefecture.

The earthquakes are believed to have caused widespread damage and devastation in Japan with authorities still assessing the extent of the damage.

At least six people are reported trapped in collapsed buildings and many houses have been reduced to rubble in parts of Ishikawa, Japan Times reported, citing local governments and fire departments.

More than 36,000 households lost power in Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures, utilities provider Hokuriku Electric Power said.

People living in coastal areas have been urged to evacuate as waves as high as 16.5ft (5m) are expected to slam the shoreline, public broadcaster NHK said, and to remain in place until all warnings are lifted.

A tsunami about 10ft (3m) high was expected to hit Niigata and other prefectures on the western coast of Japan.

Government spokesman Yoshimasa Hayashi said it was critical for people in coastal areas to get away from the oncoming tsunami.

“Every minute counts. Please evacuate to a safe area immediately,” he said.

Prime minister Fumio Kishida urged residents of the affected areas to “continue to pay close attention in case of strong earthquakes” and asked authorities to “prioritise human life above all else”.

“And in areas where tsunamis are expected, I would like to request that they evacuate as soon as possible,” he said in Tokyo.

NHK TV footage showed a room shaken by the quake, with hanging laundry swaying from side to side and a computer on a desk rattling.

NHK reported that some electric poles were toppled and roads were cracked but reports of major damage were not immediately available.

Russia and South Korea have issued tsunami warnings in parts near the Sea of Japan.

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