TOKYO (AP) — Japan on Monday lifted its highest-level tsunami warning issued after a series of major earthquakes, but warned residents in coastal areas that deadly waves could still arrive. He urged them not to return to their homes.
The earthquake was the largest, measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, causing fires and the collapse of buildings on the west coast of Honshu. It is unclear how many people may have been killed or injured.
The Japan Meteorological Agency announced that more than a dozen earthquakes occurred off the coast of Ishikawa Prefecture and in the Sea of Japan in nearby prefectures just after 4 p.m.
At least six homes were damaged in the earthquake, leaving people trapped in their homes, a government spokesperson said. Yoshimasa Hayashi Said. A fire broke out in Wajima City, Ishikawa Prefecture, causing power outages to more than 30,000 homes.
The agency initially issued a major tsunami warning for Ishikawa Prefecture and a low-level tsunami warning or advisory for the rest of Honshu’s west coast and Hokkaido, the northernmost tip of the main island.
Hours later, the warning was downgraded to a normal tsunami, meaning water levels could still reach up to 3 meters (10 feet). Aftershocks are also likely to occur in the same area over the next few days.
Japan’s public broadcaster NHK Television initially warned that torrents could reach up to 5 meters (16.5 feet).
NHK said the tsunami could keep coming again, and warnings continued to be broadcast several hours after the first warning. Several aftershocks also rocked the area.
Hayashi emphasized the importance of people in coastal areas escaping the approaching tsunami.
“Every minute is important. Please evacuate to a safe place immediately,” he urged.
People returning to retrieve their wallets and other belongings are known to have been swept away and drowned, even hours after the initial evacuation order. People have evacuated to the stadium and will likely stay for several days.
Hayashi said there were no confirmed reports of deaths or injuries from the quake, and the situation remained uncertain. The Japanese military also reportedly participated in the rescue efforts.
Footage from Japanese media showed people running through the streets and red smoke billowing from fires in residential areas. Photos showed a large group of people, including a woman carrying a baby, standing next to a large crack that had torn the pavement.
According to NHK, some people suffered minor injuries when they tripped and fell during the evacuation or were hit by objects that fell from shelves.
Shinkansen services in the area were suspended, but some had been restored by the evening. According to NHK, part of the expressway was also closed and a water pipe burst. Cell phone service in some parts of the area was not working.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said in a nationally broadcast press conference that even bigger earthquakes could hit the region next week, especially in the next two to three days.
According to the agency, more than a dozen strong earthquakes have been detected in the area, raising the risk of causing landslides and the collapse of houses.
Takashi Wakabayashi, who works at a convenience store in Ishikawa Prefecture, said some items had fallen off the shelves, but the biggest problem was the large number of people who had gathered to stock up on bottled water, rice balls and bread. .
“We have three times the normal level of customers,” he said.
Tsunami warnings were also issued for parts of North Korea and Russia.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that the Japanese government has set up a special emergency center to collect information about the earthquake and tsunami and quickly communicate it to residents to ensure their safety.
Japan is a country that experiences many earthquakes. In March 2011, a major earthquake and tsunami caused a nuclear power plant meltdown. This is the first time a tsunami warning of this magnitude has been issued since the 2011 disaster.
Government spokesperson Hayashi told reporters that no abnormalities were reported from nuclear power plants in the affected area on Monday. The nuclear regulator said monitoring stations in the area detected no elevated radiation levels.
Contributions included Hyun-Jin Kim in Seoul, Katie Davis in London, and Lorient Belanger in Bangkok.
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