Japan Suffers a Series of Major Earthquakes

At least 8 are dead, and more powerful quakes could come
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 1, 2024 11:30 AM CST
Updated Jan 2, 2024 12:15 AM CST
Japan Suffers a Series of Major Earthquakes
Cracks are seen on the ground in Wajima, Ishikawa prefecture, Japan Monday, Jan. 1, 2024, following an earthquake. Japan issued tsunami alerts Monday after a series of strong quakes in the Sea of Japan.   (Kyodo News via AP)
UPDATE Jan 2, 2024 12:15 AM CST

At least eight people are dead after the series of powerful earthquakes that hit western Japan Monday, damaging buildings, vehicles, and boats. Officials were warning people in some areas on Tuesday to stay away from their homes because of a risk of more strong quakes, the AP reports. Aftershocks continued to shake Ishikawa prefecture and nearby areas a day after a magnitude 7.6 temblor slammed the area on Monday afternoon. Eight people were confirmed dead in Wajima city, officials said. Seven others were seriously injured, while damage to homes was so great that it could not immediately be assessed, they said. Kyodo news agency reported at least 13 deaths had been confirmed.

Jan 1, 2024 11:30 AM CST

Japan dropped its highest-level tsunami alert, issued following a series of major earthquakes on Monday, but told residents of coastal areas not to return to their homes as deadly waves could still come. The quakes, the largest of which had a magnitude of 7.6, started a fire and collapsed buildings on the west coast of Japan's main island, Honshu. It was unclear how many people might have been killed or hurt. Japanese media footage showed people running through the streets, and red smoke spewing from a fire in a residential neighborhood. Photos showed a crowd of people, including a woman with a baby on her back, standing by huge cracks that had ripped through the pavement.

The Japan Meteorological Agency reported more than a dozen quakes in the Japan Sea off the coast of Ishikawa and nearby prefectures shortly after 4pm, reports the AP. The agency initially issued a major tsunami warning for Ishikawa Prefecture and lower-level tsunami warnings or advisories for the rest of the western coast of the island of Honshu, as well as the northernmost of its main islands, Hokkaido. The warning was downgraded to a regular tsunami several hours later, meaning the waters could still reach up to 10 feet.

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People were evacuated to stadiums, where they will likely have to stay for a few days. Aftershocks could slam the same area over the next few days. The initial warning was the first time since the country's March 2011 disaster that a tsunami warning of this magnitude was issued. A government spokesman told reporters that nuclear plants in the affected area had not reported any irregularities on Monday. Nuclear regulators said no rises in radiation levels were detected at the monitoring posts in the region.

(More Japan earthquake stories.)

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