Japan issues tsunami warning after magnitude 6.9 quake hits Fukushima

By @vitthernandez on
Evacuation
A traffic jam is seen as people evacuate after tsunami advisories were issued following an earthquake, in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo November 22, 2016. Reuters/Kyodo Kyodo

Japan’s nightmare is back almost six years after an earthquake and tsunami caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. At 6 am on Tuesday, another big tremor rocked the same region, prompting officials to issue a tsunami warning.

The US Geological Survey initially said the temblor was a magnitude 7.3 but downgraded it later to 6.9, The Telegraph reports. The Japan Meteorological Agency issued at 6 am a tsunami warning of waves up to 10 feet for the Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures after the tremor hit at a depth 22 miles from the Fukushima Prefecture which was hit by a tsunami in the March 2011 magnitude 9 earthquake and killed almost 19,000 people.

NHK reports that a two-foot tsunami arrived at Onahama Port in Fukushima and a three-foot tsunami reached Soma, a coastal city in the prefecture. It also reached the closed nuclear power plant, although there are no details yet about the waves’ height or potential damage.

Residents living in coastal areas in Iwate, Miyagi, Ibaraki and parts of Aomori and Chiba Prefecture were advised to evacuate to higher grounds and leave tall buildings.

No. 3 Reactor Building An aerial view shows the No.3 reactor building at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, in this photo taken by Kyodo July 18, 2013.  Reuters/Kyodo/File photo

The operator of the power plant is still decommissioning the facility – which takes decades to complete. The process needs critical cooling system to operate to cool the spent fuel. However, NHK reports that cooling to No 3 reactor’s spent nuclear fuel pool at Fukushima Daini – the sister plant of the facility - stopped, although the plant’s operator says there is no immediate danger.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, spokesman of the Japanese government, said in a TV briefing there is no immediate danger to the power plant’s cooling system for spent fuel, NBC reports.

There are no reports yet of damage or injury, but towers in Tokyo swayed. However, a chemical factory in Iwaki city burned, although the blaze was extinguished.