A strong 7.3 magnitude earthquake has struck near Fukushima, Japan today; 7.3 event. According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center located in Honolulu, Hawaii, hazardous tsunami waves are possible within 300 km or 186 miles of the epicenter. However, they add that at this time, there does not appear to be a threat of a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami from today’s earthquake.
— NHKニュース (@nhk_news) March 16, 2022
According to USGS, the earthquake struck at 14:37:50 UTC roughly 57 km east northeast of Namie, Japan. The earthquake’s epicenter, located under the Pacific Ocean, had a depth of approximately 63 km. Social media accounts from the area show widespread damage: broken windows, objects thrown from store shelves, and homes with their contents scattered. While the quake struck 220 km north of Tokyo, it was felt there too. More than 2 million people are in the dark due to both damage and safety systems triggered by the strong earthquake.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that the government was assessing the extent of damage and promised to do its utmost for rescue and relief operations. “Please first take action to save your life,” Kishida tweeted.
Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force said it dispatched fighter jets from the Hyakuri base in Ibaraki prefecture, just south of Fukushima, for information gathering and damage assessment.
Today’s earthquake was as strong as one that hit the same area in February 2021; while both today’s earthquake and the 2021 were strong, they weren’t nearly as strong as the destructive earthquake that struck in March 2011.
The March 11, 2011 9.0 earthquake was destructive and deadly. It created a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami that destroyed buildings as far away as Hawaii. Along the coast of Japan, 30 foot waves lashed the coast, claiming the lives of more than 15,000 people. One infamous impact area was the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, where an epic nuclear disaster continues to this day.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, which operates the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant said that workers were checking for any new possible damage today. The plant had become inundated after an earthquake and tsunami struck in 2011, creating the world’s second largest nuclear disaster. The damaged plant has been leaking radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean ever since.
While the 2011 earthquake did trigger a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami which created extensive damage even in the United States, today’s event doesn’t appear to carry the same threat. The National Weather Service’s Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin, “Government agencies responsible for threatened coastal areas should take action to inform and instruct any coastal populations at risk in accordance with their own evaluation, procedures, and the level of threat.” While there doesn’t appear to be any threat beyond Japan at this time, the Tsunami Warning Center continues to monitor data and could change the status of advisories and watches at any time due to any new data they see.