Natural disaster rocks Japan off coast of Fukushima Prefecture

Natural disaster rocks Japan off coast of Fukushima Prefecture

A 7.1 magnitude natural disaster was reported Saturday by the Japan Meteorological Agency at 23:08 JST with an epicenter off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture.

The tremor was registered near the eastern coast of the Honshu island at 11:08 p.m. local time (14:08 GMT) at the depth of 60 kilometers (37 miles).

The Tokyo Electric Power Company has confirmed that there were no irregularities at the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants, or at the Kahiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear, nor have there been any changes to the radiation levels around the plants.

The National Police Agency of Japan on 10 September stated the quake completely demolished 121,778 buildings.

There were no immediate reports of significant damage, though local news broadcast images of a landslide on a highway. There was no risk of a tsunami, according to official reports, but Japanese media said at least 34 people suffered injuries. Fourteen aftershocks were recorded, it said, adding that a tsunami warning had not been issued.

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Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was called to his office, and broadcaster NHK said the government would set up a special liaison office to coordinate with affected regions. Among the hardest hit areas is the city of Soma in Fukushima, roughly 40 km north of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and the Zao ski resort in Miyagi Prefecture.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato addressed reporters after midnight and said evaluations were under way. Experts are warning of aftershocks over the next several days, including possibly larger quakes.

The quake also caused the country's worst nuclear disaster - three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant melted down, releasing radioactive materials into the air and more than 100,000 people were evacuated from the area. A handful of people were reported to have sought shelter at evacuation centres.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world's most seismically active areas.

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