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Magnitude-7.3 earthquake strikes Fukushima, tsunami warning issued

A magnitude-7.3 earthquake just hit Fukushima, with damaged pavement blocks on the ground in front of JR Fukushima Station, shown here on March 17, 2022.
A magnitude-7.3 earthquake just hit Fukushima, with damaged pavement blocks on the ground in front of JR Fukushima Station, shown here on March 17, 2022. (Image credit: STR/JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images)

A tsunami warning has been issued for Fukushima after a powerful 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck the east coast of Japan, according to Japanese government officials.

In a translated announcement, the Japan Meteorological Agency (opens in new tab) said the quake hit 36 miles (60 kilometers) below the sea at roughly 11.30 p.m. local time on Wednesday (March 16), shaking buildings in Tokyo, knocking people off their feet, and leaving 2 million homes without power. The agency has issued a tsunami warning that waves of up to 3 feet (1 meter) could hit the Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.

Fukushima was the location of the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and a subsequent tsunami struck the region's nuclear power plant in 2011. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan killed roughly 20,000 people and destroyed more than 120,000 buildings. The tsunami brought down the electrical grid connected to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, shutting off its cooling system, causing meltdowns in three of the plant's six reactors, and flushing radioactive material out into the ocean.

Related: Chernobyl vs. Fukushima: Which one was the bigger nuclear disaster? 

Fumio Kishida, the Japanese prime minister, wrote on Twitter that the government was working to assess the extent of the damage caused by the earthquake, but warned citizens to "Take action to save your life first."

So far, no casualties have been reported in the aftermath of the quake. The Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the no-longer-active Fukushima nuclear plant, wrote on Twitter that it was currently investigating the impact of the earthquake on its facilities, but that workers had found no abnormalities at the site. There have also been no reports so far of damage at the Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyago Prefecture, according to the Tohoku Electric Power company

While the initial danger appears to be over, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno, warned citizens to remain vigilant for dangerous aftershocks. 

"There is a possibility that another earthquake as strong as an upper 6 could strike in the next week or so," Matsuno said in a press conference. "We need to be on alert."

Originally published on Live Science.

Ben Turner
Staff Writer

Ben Turner is a U.K. based staff writer at Live Science. He covers physics and astronomy, among other topics like tech and climate change. He graduated from University College London with a degree in particle physics before training as a journalist. When he's not writing, Ben enjoys reading literature, playing the guitar and embarrassing himself with chess.