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Small tsunami waves hit Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture after strong earthquake

 

A strong earthquake struck Friday off the coast of northeastern Japan, triggering small tsunami waves in the same region hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami last year.

The Japan Meteorological Agency says the earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.3 and struck in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Miyagi prefecture. The epicenter was 6.2 miles beneath the seabed.

There were no immediate reports of major damage but two people were reportedly injured.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported two aftershocks of of 5.5 and 4.7 magnitudes east of Ishinomaki, a city in Miyagi, where a tsunami of 1 meter (1 yard) hit about 40 minutes after the quake struck.

Small tsunami waves were also recorded at the Port of Ofunato in Iwate Prefecture and Kesennuma City in Miyagi, according to Japan's NHK TV.

After the quake, which caused buildings in Tokyo to sway for at least several minutes, authorities issued a warning that a tsunami potentially as high as 2 meters (2.19 yards) could hit.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no risk of a widespread tsunami. About two hours after the quake struck, the tsunami warning was cancelled.

Shortly before the earthquake struck, NHK television broke off regular programming to warn that a strong quake was due to hit. Afterward, the announcer repeatedly urged all near the coast to flee to higher ground.

The magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that slammed into northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, killed or left missing some 19,000 people, devastating much of the coast. All but two of Japan's nuclear plants were shut down for checks after the earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant in the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Immediately following Friday's quake, there were no problems at any of the nuclear plants operated by Fukushima Dai-Ichi operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., said a TEPCO spokesman, Takeo Iwamoto.

Sirens whooped along the coast as people ran for higher ground, but the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no risk of a widespread tsunami.

A 75-year-old woman fell and was injured while evacuating to flee from the tsunami, public television broadcaster NHK reported. It said a child was reportedly injured in the Miyagi city of Sendai. Miyagi police said they could not confirm those reports.

More than an hour after the quake struck, an unnamed official from the Meteorological Agency, speaking on national television, continued to warn people to stay away from the coast.

"Please take all precautions. Please stay on higher ground," he said.

The tsunami alert extended from the tip of the main island of Honshu nearly down to Tokyo, though the warning for the area most likely to be hit was only for the Miyagi coast.

All Nippon Airways spokesman Takuya Taniguchi said government officials were checking on the runways at Sendai airport. The two jets that were in the air went to other airports and all seven flights scheduled to go to Sendai for the day were cancelled, he said.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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Click for more from the U.S. Geological Survey.

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