Japan faces aftershocks for days after quake

(CNN) — Aftershocks could continue to shake the Japanese coast for days, the United States Geological Survey said, after a 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck off Honshu early this morning.

Residents along the east coast of Fukushima Prefecture braced for the worst after the quake set off a tsunami warning along the same stretch of coast devastated by a quake and tsunami in 2011.

Then, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake — one of the worst ever to hit Japan — killed more than 20,000 people and waves of up to 12 meters (40 feet) swamped the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggering a nuclear meltdown.

japanese-after-november-2016-earthquakeAfter today’s quake, thousands were urged to seek higher ground amid warnings tsunami waves could be up to three meters high (10 feet). Three people were injured, police told CNN, while more than 1,900 homes briefly lost power.

The quake struck 37 kilometers (23 miles) east-southeast of Namie at a depth of 11.4 kilometers (7 miles). Eight aftershocks of at least magnitude 5.4 were recorded within five hours of the initial quake.

USGS geophysicist Jessica Turner told CNN the earthquake had been much smaller than the disaster five years ago.

“It is much smaller in magnitude and energy release than the 9.0-magnitude that occurred in March of 2011 … we can expect to see aftershocks for the next several days (but) it’s hard to predict,” she said.

A tsunami advisory, in effect for Japan’s Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures, was lifted at 12.50 p.m. local time today after being put in place earlier in the day.

One of the prime concerns was the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

A cooling pump system was temporarily stopped after the quake but soon resumed operation, a spokesman for the Tokyo Electric Power Company Inc. (TEPCO) told CNN. No abnormalities or change in radiation levels were reported.

University of Sydney Disaster Risk Management Expert Dale Dominey-Howes told CNN  today’s earthquake would be devastating for the mental health of survivors still recovering from the 2011 event.

“The simple reality is that the survivors from 2011 haven’t gone back to normal, they’re basically living as displaced people in camps in various locations around central Japan,” he said.

“So today’s earthquake and tsunami basically catapults people back into the moments of the 2011 disaster, all that emotion and pain … Survivors will experience the trauma all over again.”


Top: A map showing the location of today’s earthquake in Japan. Image: CNN

Inset: Firefighters watch the port to check the water level after a tsunami warning in Soma, Fukushima prefecture, today. Photo: CNN

SOURCE: CNN’s Emanuella Grinberg and Ben Westcott


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