Jan. 1, 2024, 5:30 a.m. ET
A powerful earthquake hit the Noto region of central Japan on Monday, triggering tsunami warnings and evacuation orders in several prefectures, causing buildings to collapse and disrupting electricity and mobile phone services in Ishikawa Prefecture, the epicenter of the quake, officials and Japan’s public broadcaster said.
The quake struck at around 4:10 p.m. and had a magnitude of 7.6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. According to the United States Geological Survey, the earthquake measured 7.5 magnitude.
It was much weaker than the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan in 2011, causing a tsunami, killing thousands and damaging the Fukushima power plant, which triggered a nuclear crisis. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake Monday had a very shallow depth, which tends to make earthquakes more dangerous, but initial reports from the authorities in Ishikawa Prefecture suggested that there had been no major damage to “important facilities.”
An official from Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Agency said that there were no signs of abnormalities at any radioactivity monitoring stations at the Shika nuclear power plant in Ishikawa.
Still, the meteorological agency warned that aftershocks and tsunamis could continue for up to a week and advised residents to be on guard for at least two or three days.
The agency issued a major tsunami warning for the Noto Peninsula facing the Japan Sea and ordered residents to leave for higher ground immediately. The agency warned that there could be waves as high as five meters, or 16 feet, in Noto and as high as three meters along the coasts of Sado Island, as well as in prefectures including Niigata and Toyama.