Japan has raised the tsunami warnings issued later to a 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit its eastern coast. The earthquake struck near Fukushima at about 06:00 local time 21st November, prompting initial warnings of 3m (9.8ft) high waves. However, the waves that hit the coast were much lighter.
Thousands of locals were directed to evacuate the area and minor injuries were reported. In 2011, an earthquake and tsunami struck the area killing 18,000 people. It was one of the most powerful to be recorded ever, also it caused a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, where a massive clean-up operation is still going on.
The US Geological Survey originally put the magnitude at 7.3 but later downgraded this to 6.9, lower than the number given by the Japanese authorities. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said that no tsunami damage is expected, though there may be small changes to the sea level. According to JMA, the latest tremor was an aftershock of the 2011 quake and depth of quake was estimated to be 30km (18.6 miles) on Monday. Japan Times said that the area was still generating at least an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude or more each year.
Strong tremors could be felt as far away as the capital, 100 miles south of Fukushima prefecture. Buildings in the capital shook for at least 30 seconds. The BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo says thousands of people have followed evacuation warnings and headed for higher ground.
Ships could be seen moving away from harbours in Fukushima prefecture and car manufacturer Nissan suspended work at its Fukushima engine factory.