, TOKYO, Dec 7 – A one metre-high tsunami hit northeast Japan on Friday, after a powerful undersea quake struck off the coast which was devastated in last year’s quake-tsunami disaster.
Meteorologists said the wave swept ashore at just after 6pm (0900 GMT) in Ishinomaki, a city badly hit by the 2011 tsunami that wrecked a large swathe of the northeast coast, killing thousands.
There were no immediate reports of any fatalities after the 7.3-magnitude quake that was followed by a 6.2 aftershock, according to the United States Geological Survey.
Residents of at least one town, Minamisanriku in Miyagi prefecture, were advised to get to safety, with reports suggesting other towns were also affected.
“We are now calling on people to evacuate to higher ground,” town official Ryuichi Omori told AFP:
“It’s already pitch dark here. Calls phones – both landlines and mobiles – are not going through now, which makes it difficult to see people’s movement.
“The quake was not so big although it felt very (strong). It was not big at all compared with last year’s earthquake. The town office is now setting up a disaster taskforce.”
A presenter on state broadcaster NHK repeatedly told viewers to get to safety after the initial tremors, which set Tokyo buildings swaying violently.
“Remember last year’s quake and tsunami,” he said. “Call on your neighbours and flee to higher ground now!”
NHK, quoting the national meteorological agency, said the tsunami was expected to hit the coast of Iwate at 5:40pm (0840 GMT), Fukushima at 5:50pm, and Aomori and Ibaraki at 6pm.
The 7.3 quake struck 36 kilometres (23 miles) under the Pacific, USGS said.
The epicentre was 284 kilometres (176 miles) east of Sendai, or 459 kilometres (285 miles) northeast of Tokyo, according to the USGS.