- A 6.1-magnitude earthquake has hit just east of the Japanese capital
- Officials have said there is no tsunami danger but have warned residents to ‘take action to protect your lives’
- The epicentre was located in the Chiba prefecture at a depth of 48 miles
- A bridge in Chiba has been closed after a water pipe ruptured and train services have been stopped
- The quake cause buildings to sway and disruption to services but there have been no immediate reports of severe damage or injury
As violent tremors rattled the city around 10.40 p.m. local time, buildings swayed, traffic came to a halt, and residents were told to ‘take action to protect your lives’ (1.41pm GMT).
The quake, which struck Chiba prefecture, just east of Tokyo, at a depth of 48 miles, did not cause a tsunami, according to officials.
The quake registered a tremor of ‘5 plus’ on Japan’s own ‘shindo’ scale of quake intensity, jolting Tokyo and surrounding areas late Thursday evening, according to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.
The quake’s magnitude could cause significant damage to buildings and power outages, and residents received an emergency alert on their phones advising them to seek shelter.
A taskforce established to response to the earthquake
The government of new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has established a taskforce to coordinate local authorities’ and emergency services’ response to any damage and injuries. Kishida told NHK that the task force will ‘find out about the latest situation and provide information to the public in a timely manner.’
Several bullet train lines were halted as a result of the quake, according to the broadcaster, and the Otsubo Bridge in Ichihara City, Chiba, was closed after a water pipe ruptured due to the tremors.
The Tokyo Electric Power Corporation reported 250 cases of blackouts in the city.
‘Without doubt the strongest earthquake I’ve experienced in almost 5 years in Japan,’ tweeted nature photographer and videographer James Reynolds from Tokyo.
‘JMA shows epicentre on east side of Tokyo Bay, in Chiba. Magnitude 6.1 with Shindo 5+ shaking in the heart of the city.’
The ‘Shinkansen’ super express trains in and out of Tokyo were temporarily halted as power lines shook from the tremors, according to NHK TV, which showed a sign hanging from the ceiling in its office swaying violently.
Many elevators, including those at Tokyo’s metropolitan government building, stopped working automatically, and officials took to the stairs, according to NHK.
According to Yoshiyuki Yoshihara, an official in Tokyo’s Adachi district, a number of elevators came to a halt with people trapped inside but later resumed service.
Video taken in Shibuya and Shinjuku’s busy downtown districts showed cars moving and people walking on the streets as usual, with only minor tremors.
Reactions of Japanese Government
Fumio Kishida, Japan’s new Prime Minister, issued a tweet urging people to “check the latest information and take action to protect your lives.”
The quake has caused buildings to sway and services to be disrupted, but there have been no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
Hirokazu Matsuno, chief cabinet secretary, said the authorities are investigating any potential damage but confirmed there were no anomalies at nuclear power plants in the area.
Japan on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’
Japan is located on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire,’ an arc of intense seismic activity that extends from Southeast Asia to the Pacific basin.
A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck off Japan’s northwest coast last week, causing no damage.
The country is frequently struck by earthquakes, and strict construction regulations are in place to ensure that buildings can withstand strong tremors.
It is, however, haunted by the memory of the March 11, 2011 undersea quake, which triggered a deadly tsunami and set off the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Around 18,500 people were killed or went missing as a result of the tsunami.