Earthquake hits near Fukushima

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      An undersea earthquake measuring 6.8 has struck the northeast coast of Japan today near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that suffered a triple meltdown after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

      The quake hit at 19:22 GMT Friday (about 4:22 a.m. local time), according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center/NOAA/NWS, at a depth of 10 kilometres and 129 kilometres east of Honshu Island. (The U.S. Geological Survey downgraded the quake to 6.5 shortly after initial reports.)

      No serious tsunami warnings were issued, although Japan’s Meteorological Agency released a cautionary bulletin for Japan’s northern coast that advised residents to “get out of the water and leave the coast immediately”.

      The agency said a one-metre tsunami might hit the Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima coasts as a result of the temblor, according to the Kyodo news agency. (Associated Press  reported that Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency warned of possible metre-high waves but later announced the arrival of only a 20-centimetre wave 50 minutes after the quake.)

      The March 11, 2011, 9.0 quake—one of the strongest ever recorded—caused tsunami waves that reached 10 metres in height; in some areas, they were as high as 20 metres.

      There has been no reported damage at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO). The BNO News wire service Twitter account reported at approximately 1:26 p.m. Pacific Time that "TEPCO says no reports of abnormalities at nuclear plant in Fukushima ." Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported at about the same time that plant officials were checking for damage.

      Two earthquakes. measuring 5.6 and 5.7, struck near the same coastline within two hours on June 17 this year.

      The latest quake’s epicentre was 129 kilometres east-southeast of the coastal town of Namie, in Fukushima Prefecture. Namie was heavily damaged in the 2011 disaster that killed more than 19,000 people and led to the Fukushima nuclear power-plant catastrophe that has left more than 120,000 evacuated residents still unable to return to their homes.