Massive earthquake hits Japan

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A 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck central Japan on Monday afternoon, collapsing buildings, causing fires and triggering tsunami alerts as far away as eastern Russia, prompting orders for residents to evacuate affected coastal areas of Japan.

The earthquake left six people dead in Ishikawa prefecture, and dozens have been injured in four other prefectures, including Toyama and Niigata, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported, citing hospitals and local authorities.

The earthquake struck at 4:10 p.m. local time at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles) in the Noto Peninsula of Ishikawa prefecture, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The Japan Meteorological Agency immediately issued a tsunami warning along coastal regions of western Japan, and the first waves were reported hitting the coast just over 10 minutes later.

Some of the first reports came from the city of Wajima in Ishikawa prefecture, which saw tsunami waves of around 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) around 4:21 p.m., according to NHK. No immediate damage was reported. The tsunami warnings along portions of Japan’s western coast were later removed.

The defense ministry dispatched 1,000 military personnel to help the rescue and recovery efforts, Defense Minister Minoru Kihara told reporters earlier Monday.

Suzu city officials in Ishikawa told CNN that buildings have been damaged and there were reports of injuries. Police in the city said some people were trapped in damaged houses, according to NHK.

Hospital officials in Suzu said they received injured people, adding that some doctors were unable to make it to work because of damaged roads, NHK reported.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a “major tsunami warning” – the first since 2011’s devastating earthquake – for Noto but later downgraded it to a “tsunami warning.”

Tsunami warnings were later canceled as the threat of further tsunami waves diminished, though advisories for waves up to 1 meter (3 feet) continue.

Under Japan’s tsunami warning system, waves expected less than 1 meter fall under “tsunami advisory,” while those expected up to 3 meters fall under “tsunami warning” and waves expected above 5 meters fall under “major tsunami warning.”

Source: CNN. January 1, 2024. By Emiko Jozuka, Hanako Montgomery, Chie Kobayashi and Alex Stambaugh CNN. Massive earthquake hits Japan, triggering tsunami warnings