(ORDO NEWS) — A strong 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Japan’s Fukushima prefecture on Wednesday. Dozens of people were injured. There are dead.
The 2011 earthquake was about 63 times stronger than the current one.
For some, the incident brought back obvious and uneasy memories of 2011, when a similar earthquake triggered a tsunami. It, in turn, caused the accident at the Fukushima power plant, and the consequences of this are still being felt.
Although the current earthquake occurred in the same area, it has not yet led to a state of emergency in the country for a number of reasons. Here’s what you need to know.
What, where and when?
The earthquake hit around 00:30 local time off the coast of Fukushima, north of the capital Tokyo. Initially, it was estimated at 7.3 points, but on Thursday the assessment of the power of this earthquake was increased to 7.4.
As of Thursday, all tsunami warnings issued in the wake of the quake have been cancelled. The epicenter of Wednesday’s quake was about 89 kilometers from the center of the devastating 2011 earthquake.
Robert Geller, a seismologist and professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, suggested that Wednesday’s quake could have been the 2011 aftershock a shock that occurs after and is smaller than the main shock.
“From a geological point of view, aftershocks can persist for 50 to 100 years, but over time, the frequency of aftershocks and their size will decrease, ” he said .
On Thursday, Japanese authorities said two people, including a man in his 60s, had died and at least 160 were injured. Footage from Tokyo shows street lights and subway handles shaking. Tens of thousands of homes were cut off from electricity throughout the city, but it was restored within hours.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said no “anomalies” had been found at the country’s nuclear power plants.
A bullet train traveling through Miyagi Prefecture derailed during an earthquake, trapping 78 people for four hours. According to public broadcaster NHK, all passengers and crew were ultimately unharmed and exited safely through the emergency exit.
Photos from Fukushima and Miyagi show earthquake-damaged buildings with broken windows, broken roof tiles and floors, and collapsed ceilings. The floors of shops and supermarkets are littered with goods and rubbish.
Wednesday’s quake struck off the coast at a depth of 60 kilometers, which likely helped limit damage. According to Geller, the most destructive earthquakes occur close to the earth’s surface, not deep in the earth’s crust.
Does this look like the 2011 earthquake?
The 2011 quake was about 63 times stronger than Wednesday’s and it released about 500 times more energy – it was the most powerful earthquake ever to hit Japan. And its depth was only 26 kilometers, which means that its impact was much stronger.
Wednesday’s quake generated tsunami waves only 0.2 meters high, while the one 11 years ago generated waves 9.1 meters high. And do not forget that it was they who damaged several nuclear reactors in the area.
In the 2011 disaster, more than 22,000 people died or went missing in the initial earthquake and subsequent tsunami. As of last year, more than 35,000 people still lived not in their places, but where they were moved from dangerous areas.
Cleaning up the area from the aftermath of the disaster is expected to take decades and cost the Japanese government billions of dollars.
Since 2011, the country has stepped up its response systems to better cope with such disasters, including improving earthquake early warning systems and seismic observation technologies.
Could there be new earthquakes or tsunamis?
The Japan Meteorological Agency has warned the public to be on the lookout for aftershocks and the risk of landslides or mudslides. The agency urged people in the affected areas to stay away from the coast and not go into the sea.
In a tweet, the Prime Minister’s Office said the government has set up a response office that will work with local governments to take emergency action, including searching for and rescuing potential victims. Geller, a seismologist, said that Japan could expect more shocks next week – but they will gradually decrease.
“Yesterday’s earthquake is a good reminder for the people of Japan that this country is prone to earthquakes and that they can happen at any time,” the scientist said. “So people have to be ready.”
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