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An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.1 hit off the coast of eastern Japan on Saturday (Feb 13), the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The epicentre of the earthquake was off the coast of Fukushima prefecture at a depth of 60km, the agency said, adding that a tsunami warning had not been issued.

The earthquake hit at 11.08 pm local time and shook buildings in the capital of Tokyo.Separately, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the earthquake occurred east by north-east of Namie, a town located in Fukushima.

Nearly 10 years ago on March 11, 2011, three nuclear reactors in Fukushima melted down after a quake and tsunami in the area, killing more than 18,000 people.

Coming a little less than a month before the 10th anniversary of what is known as the Great East Japan earthquake, the quake on Saturday rattled the greater Tokyo area for about 30 seconds and was felt powerfully in Fukushima and Sendai.
The prime minister’s office immediately set up a crisis management office and the Tokyo Electric Power Co, or Tepco, which operates the nuclear plants, said it was checking its monitoring posts in Fukushima to ensure that there were no radiation leaks.

About 950,000 households were without power, government spokesman Katsunobu Kato told a briefing carried on public broadcaster NHK. He said there were no irregularities at two nuclear facilities, Fukushima Dai-ni and Onagawa. Authorities were still checking at Fukushima Dai-ichi, he said.

NHK said there were no reports of irregularities at another nuclear facility at Tokaimura, in Ibaraki prefecture.

In Minami Soma, one of the Fukushima villages evacuated after the nuclear disaster in 2011, NHK reported that severe horizontal shaking lasted for about 30 seconds.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world’s most seismically active areas. Japan accounts for about 20 per cent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

[News taken from The Straight Times]

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