Weather News

Japan earthquake injures 100 people, triggers landslide ahead of 10-year tsunami anniversary

Sunday February 14, 2021 - 12:37 AEDT

A 7.3-magnitude earthquake has struck off the eastern coast of Japan, injuring more than 100 people, leaving almost a million homes without power and causing a landslide.

It hit the Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures, the same areas that were devastated by a more powerful earthquake that triggered a tsunami and killed over 18,000 people just under 10 years ago, causing a meltdown at a nuclear power plant.

The latest earthquake was recorded at 11:08pm local time on Saturday at a depth of 60 kilometres in the Pacific Ocean.

It triggered a landslide in Fukushima and shook buildings in the Japanese capital Tokyo hundreds of kilometres away.

The latest incident did not cause a tsunami, local authorities said.

According to public broadcaster NHK, 104 people were injured, most of them spraining their ankles while falling on stairs or getting cut by broken glass.

Tokyo Electric Power, which runs the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant that was hit in the 2011 disaster, said the water used to cool fuel rods near the reactors had spilled because of the shaking.

But there were no radiation leaks or other irregularities, the company tweeted.

Japan's Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said it would take several days before the full damage to the nation's cities and towns would be known.

"Casualties and structural damage are being assessed," Mr Kato said.

Pfizer confirms vaccine facilities unaffected by quake

Mr Kato warned residents about the possibility of strong aftershocks in the next week and further landslides due to forecasted heavy rain.

"Particularly for the next two to three days, there might be very strong earthquakes," Mr Kato said.

About 4,800 households have been cut off from water, M Kato said, adding that health ministry staff and self-defence troops were heading to affected areas to deliver water.

Around 950,000 homes lost power throughout the region, but electricity had been restored in most areas by Sunday morning, according to a regional utility.

Mr Kato said as of early Sunday more than 250 people were at 173 emergency shelters in Fukushima and surrounding regions, where social-distancing measures have been put in place.

Many may have since returned home, he added.

Pfizer, whose coronavirus vaccine is set to become the first to be approved in Japan later on Sunday, has told the Government that the quake did not affect facilities storing the jabs, Mr Kato said.

Video shared on social media showed boxes, books and other items scattered on floors.

Shinkansen bullet trains to much of northern Japan were suspended due to damage along the tracks.

Service along one line was not expected to be restored until at least Tuesday.

The March 11, 2011, earthquake in Japan that set off a massive tsunami led to the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

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

Japan accounts for about 20 per cent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.



© AP, ABC 2021

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