In the end, there will have been more fear than harm. Japan was frightened overnight from Saturday to Sunday after a 7.3 magnitude submarine earthquake off Fukushima in the northeast of the country. However, no death or major material damage was reported Sunday morning.
Without having caused a tsunami but having been followed by several aftershocks during the night, the earthquake left 74 injured, according to the national agency for disaster and disaster management, while several media counted a hundred. While nearly a million homes had been deprived of electricity after the first shock, which occurred on Saturday shortly after 11 p.m. (3 p.m. in France), power was almost 100% restored on Sunday morning.
No problem with nuclear power plants
No anomalies were detected on the nuclear power plants in the affected areas, the same ones that were struck on March 11, 2011 by a magnitude 9 earthquake accompanied by a gigantic tidal wave, which had left 18,000 dead and missing and severely damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The main material damage visible at the moment was a landslide that damaged a highway in the department of Fukushima. High-speed train connections (Shinkansen) in northern Japan were suspended on Sunday, time to examine the condition of their infrastructure.
The Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) initially estimated the earthquake’s magnitude at 7.1, before revising it up a few hours later. According to the JMA, it would be a distant aftershock of the record earthquake of March 11, 2011. The epicenter of the earthquake was located at a depth of 60 kilometers in the Pacific Ocean and about 60 kilometers from the coast of Fukushima .
Risks of landslides
The Japanese authorities urged the population to “be extremely careful”, warning that further major aftershocks could occur in the days to come, and that the risk of landslides would increase with the rain expected Monday in the region. The government also continued on Sunday to assess the damage toll. Members of the Japanese Self-Defense Force were dispatched to the affected areas to distribute water, among other things, as some 4,800 households no longer had access to running water, government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said. More than 250 people took refuge in evacuation centers overnight, but most have now returned home.