Early Tuesday morning local time, a powerful earthquake triggered a tsunami off the coast of Japan near where three nuclear reactors melted down at a plant in Fukushima after a similar event in 2011.
The earthquake struck in the same area as the devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake in 2011 — one of the worst ever to hit Japan — which killed more than 20,000 people and triggered a meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The memories of the devastation of five years ago fueled fears of a similar disaster on Tuesday. The quake quickly prompted evacuation warnings along the coast. “Please move as far away from the shoreline as possible. Please remember the Great East Japan earthquake,” said the announcer on public broadcast station NHK urging people to leave the coast.
Here are five quick facts regarding the quake:
1. The Japanese weather service reported a preliminary magnitude of 7.4 and issued a warning of a tsunami of about ten feet. The U.S. Geological Survey initially reported a magnitude 6.9 — still a significant earthquake by any measure.
2. A tsunami wave of almost 5 feet did hit the port of Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture, far smaller than that which was predicted by the Japanese weather service. At the Fukushima nuclear plant, the Tsunami waves rose to about three feet.
— Jake Milstein (@MilsteinKIRO7) November 21, 2016
3. The Tokyo Electric Power Company, Tepco, reported that a cooling in one of the reactors at Fukushima Daini, a nuclear facility close to the ruined Daiichi plant, had stopped, triggering fears of another nuclear meltdown. Tepco said that there was enough water in the reactor to keep the 2,544 spent fuel rods cool in the short term. The utility later said the system had resumed operations after 90 minutes.
4. According to the U.S. Geological survey, the earthquake was shallow, which tended to cause more shaking damage and had greater potential to cause a tsunami. However, “the good news here is that the direction the fault was moving is a slight lateral slip. When the faults move laterally, they do not create the same vertical movement associated with large tsunamis,” the U.S. agency said. Tsunami warnings have since been lifted.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) November 21, 2016
5. There have been no reports of fatalities, though at least six people suffered minor injuries during the earthquake and tsunami.