7.3-magnitude earthquake strikes off Japan

JAPAN – A tsunami warning is in effect for Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture after a 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck off Honshu at 5:59 a.m. Tuesday (3:59 p.m. Monday ET), according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

A tsunami wave of 1-3 meters (3-10 feet) is possible, according to the agency. The US Geological Survey put the magnitude at 6.9, striking 37 kilometers (23 miles) east-southeast of Namie off the country’s east coast at a depth of 11.4 kilometers (7 miles).

Two aftershocks were reported by USGS, one 5.4 and one 4.8.

A tsunami warning has been issued along the coast, according to the National Weather Service.

A live view off the coast of Japan is available here.

Several tsunami waves have been spotted off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, CNN affiliate NHK reported. One was spotted 22 kilometers off the coast of Iwaki City; a 90-centimeter wave was reported at Port of Soma; a 60-centimeter wave was reported at Port of Onahama.

Video on social media from Onahama featured sounds of sirens in response to the warning in effect. Images of the port showed waves that the broadcaster described as “backwash” that happens before a tsunami hits shore.

NHK urged the public to evacuate, cautioning that even if waves appear low in the ocean they can rise as they reach shore. The broadcaster reminded people to dress warmly in the cold rain and urged them to help others leave.

“Please do not think that you are safe. Please evacuate to high grounds,” the network said. “Please think about the worst-case scenario and evacuate right away.”

Earthquakes are common in Japan. The most recent was a 6.2 magnitude in late October near Kurayoshi, a city to the west of Osaka, which caused a handful of injuries.

The epicenter of this latest earthquake was not far south of the 2011 quake that caused a devastating tsunami, damaged nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant and killed more than 15,000 people. The devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan will rank among the costliest natural disasters on record.

The 2011 quake moved Japan’s coast 8 feet and shifted the Earth’s axis, ranking among the costliest natural disasters on record.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Inc. said there had been no abnormalities or change in radiation levels at Fukushima Daiichi. Authorities are working to confirm reports that the reactor’s cooling system stopped, NHK reported.

There is no tsunami threat to Hawaii as a result of the quake, the Honolulu Department of Emergency Management said.

This is a developing story; refresh for updates.