Magnitude 6.8 quake hits off Japan, tsunami advisory issued

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TOKYO (June 18): A magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck off the northwest coast of Japan, triggering a tsunami advisory. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The quake, which struck close to the coast of Yamagata at a depth of 10 kilometers, caused heavy shaking of upper 6 on Japan’s scale of 7 in Niigata, closest to the epicenter.

Waves of up to 1 meter (3.3 feet) could strike the coasts of Yamagata and Niigata prefectures, the Japan Meteorological Agency warned. Authorities called on people in coastal areas to leave immediately. A “slight” tsunami was recorded hitting the coast of Niigata at around 11:05 p.m. local time, the agency said, adding that while waves could hit their maximum height, hours after the first waves struck, no major damage was expected.

The temblor was the strongest felt in Japan since a major quake knocked out power to the island of Hokkaido in September, killing 41 people.

Some bullet trains servicing areas near the quake were halted. Japan Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that more than 9,000 households were without power, and that authorities were working to establish if there were any casualties. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to his offices late at night as authorities worked to establish the extent of any damage, Kyodo reported.

Niigata is home to the world’s largest nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric’s idled Kashiwazaki-Kariwa. All reactors have been offline since events following Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster. There were no reports of abnormalities at any of the nation’s nuclear plants, Japan’s Industry Ministry said.