TOKYO – A one metre-high tsunami hit northeast Japan on Friday, after a powerful undersea quake struck off the coast which was devastated in last year’s quake-tsunami disaster.
Meteorologists said the wave swept ashore at just after 6pm (0900 GMT) in Ishinomaki, a city badly hit by the 2011 tsunami that wrecked a large swathe of the northeast coast, killing thousands.
There were no immediate reports of any fatalities after the 7.3-magnitude quake that was followed by a 6.2 aftershock, according to the United States Geological Survey.
Residents of at least one town, Minamisanriku in Miyagi prefecture, were advised to get to safety, with reports suggesting other towns were also affected.
“We are now calling on people to evacuate to higher ground,” town official Ryuichi Omori told AFP.
“It’s already pitch dark here. Calls phones — both landlines and mobiles — are not going through now, which makes it difficult to see people’s movement.”
“The quake was not so big although it felt very (strong). It was not big at all compared with last year’s earthquake. The town office is now setting up a disaster taskforce.”
A presenter on state broadcaster NHK repeatedly told viewers to get to safety after the initial tremors, which set Tokyo buildings swaying violently.
“Remember last year’s quake and tsunami,” he said. “Call on your neighbours and flee to higher ground now!”
NHK, quoting the national meteorological agency, said the tsunami was expected to hit the coast of Iwate Fukushima and Aomori and Ibaraki.
The 7.3 quake struck 36 kilometres (23 miles) under the Pacific, USGS said. NHK said the Japan Meteorological Agency had issued a tsunami warning, one notch lower than a tsunami alert, for the Pacific coast of Iwate, Fukushima, Aomori and Ibaraki prefectures. There was no threat of a Pacific-wide tsunami, US monitors based in Hawaii said. Officials in both Indonesia and the Philippines south of Japan said there was no threat of a localized tsunami.