Japan issued tsunami alerts and advised people to evacuate coastal areas after a series of strong earthquakes on the first day of the New Year. The Japan Meteorological Agency reported quakes off the coast of Ishikawa and nearby prefectures shortly after 4:00 p.m. on January 1, one of them with a preliminary magnitude of 7.6.
The authorities issued a major tsunami warning for Ishikawa and lower level tsunami alerts for the rest of the west coast of Honshu, Japan’s main island. Public broadcaster NHK warned that water torrents could reach up to 5 meters (16.5 feet).
Due to the danger of a tsunami, people were urged to flee to high ground or the upper part of a nearby building as quickly as possible. NHK reported that tsunami waves could continue and warnings were still being issued more than an hour after the initial alert. Additionally, several aftershocks of the main earthquake were recorded in the region.
Japanese government spokesperson Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters that nuclear plants in the area had not reported any irregularities. However, he emphasized the importance of people in coastal areas moving away from the impending tsunami. “Every minute counts. Please evacuate to a safe area immediately,” he said.
A tsunami of around 3 meters (approximately 10 feet) was expected to hit Niigata and other prefectures on Japan’s west coast. Smaller tsunami waves had already been confirmed to have reached the coast, according to NHK.
Warnings of waves up to one meter (3 feet) high were issued for parts of North Korea and Russia. Russian authorities issued a tsunami alert for the island of Sakhalin, warning that areas along the island’s west coast could be affected by the waves. In South Korea, the meteorological agency urged residents in some coastal cities in the east to be alert to possible changes in sea levels. Later arriving tsunami waves can be larger than the initial ones.
The Japanese government has set up a special emergency center to gather information about the earthquakes and the tsunami. This way, they could quickly transmit information to residents to ensure safety, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters, reiterating the warning for immediate evacuation in affected areas.
Japan is extremely earthquake-prone. In March 2011, a major earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at a nuclear plant.
Images from NHK showed a room shaken by the earthquake, with hanging clothes swinging from side to side and a computer on a desk trembling. There were no immediate reports of significant damage, but NHK reported that some power poles had been knocked down and roads had cracks.
On social media, the first images of the strong waves on the coasts of Japan also began to circulate. Users reported that water was out in the Kanazawa Ishikawa station due to the powerful earthquake. For more information and updates, people can visit the appropriate links.