Major Earthquake Hits Off Japan's Coast

April 7, 2011

NPR Staff and Wires

(Photo by Eva-Marie Ramsaran/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)
U.S. Navy sailors aid in clean-up efforts on Oshima Island, Japan on April 3, 2011.

Updated at 11:07 am on 4/7/2011 (from AP): Japan's meteorological agency says it has lifted a tsunami warning for the northeastern coast 90 minutes after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck offshore. Officials at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant say there was no immediate sign the aftershock caused new problems.

Japan was hit by a strong earthquake and tsunami warning Thursday night nearly a month after a devastating earthquake and tsunami flattened the northeastern coast.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning for a wave of up to about 3 feet. The warning was issued for a coastal area in Japan already torn apart by last month's tsunami.

U.S. officials said the quake was not expected to create a tsunami threat in Hawaii or the West Coast, which also were hit by the twin disasters March 11. Federal agencies said that area includes Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and British Columbia, Canada.

Thursday's earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of at least 7.1, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It struck off the coast of Miyagi prefecture at a depth of 25 miles. The quake that preceded last month's tsunami was a 9.0-magnitude.

The USGS said the temblor struck off Japan's eastern coast 60 miles from Sendai and 90 miles from Fukushima. It was about 215 miles from Tokyo.

"In Tokyo, it shook for about two minutes," NPR's Greg Dixon reported. He said there were no immediate reports of damage in Japan.

Japanese broadcaster NHK said that the Tokyo Electric Power Company reported no problems at its crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex. All the workers were said to have been evacuated to a safe location.

NHK also was reporting that the earthquake hit the Tohoku region in northern Japan — the same region that was devastated by the March earthquake and tsunami. The broadcaster was imploring people on the coast to get to higher ground

Hundreds of aftershocks have shaken the northeast region since last month's temblor, but few have been stronger than 7.0.

With reporting from NPR's Greg Dixon in Tokyo. Material from The Associated Press was used in this story. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.