TOKYO: A powerful 6.9-magnitude earthquake hit northeastern Japan on Tuesday, triggering tsunamis along the coast including a one-metre (3.3-foot) wave that crashed ashore at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant.
National broadcaster NHK urged residents in the region to “flee immediately” to high ground, reminding listeners to heed the lessons of the “Great East Japan Earthquake”.
A massive undersea quake that hit in March 2011 unleashed a tsunami that left more than 18,500 people dead or missing, and sent three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters.
An official from plant operator TEPCO told a news conference that a one-metre wave had hit the coast at the facility, but a spokesman for the company told AFP there were no reports of damage.
TEPCO earlier reported that a water cooling system at a reactor in the separate Fukushima Daini facility had briefly stopped in an automatic response, but that it was back up and operating.
“The biggest risk now is a case whereby contaminated water is carried away with the tsunami, which pollutes the environment,” TEPCO’s chief decommissioning officer Naohiro Masuda said at the televised press conference in Tokyo.
Several other tsunami waves, the biggest measuring 1.4 metres (4.6 feet), hit elsewhere on the northeastern coast, according to NHK, but they were smaller than initial warnings of waves as high as 3.0 metres.
NHK aired rolling coverage on the earthquake, with the words “Tsunami! Flee!” written in white lettering over a bright red band in the middle of the screen.