A woman surveys the damage in her apartment in Fukushima, Japan, on Thursday following a 7.4 magnitude earthquake. At least three people died and more than 200 people were injured after the earthquake struck off Japan's northern coast on Wednesday evening, Xinhua reported. (Photo/Xinhua)
A magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima in northern Japan on Wednesday night, cutting off power to more than 2 million homes, including in Tokyo, and triggering concerns over the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
At least three people died and more than 200 were injured in the quake, according to Xinhua News Agency. One of the people who died was a man in his 60s living in Soma, a city in Fukushima prefecture, local media reported.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday that authorities were looking into the situation, including the number of deaths linked to the quake, and the Defense Ministry had sent Self-Defense forces to Fukushima to help with disaster relief.
"We will take all possible measures to respond to the disaster," Kishida said.
The temblor, which happened at 11:36 pm－two minutes after a magnitude 6.1 quake struck－was a frightening reminder for many in the region, where a magnitude 9.0 quake and tsunami hit 11 years ago, resulting in a nuclear crisis.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake occurred in waters off Fukushima at a depth of about 57 kilometers, and the jolts were strong enough to toss people into the air. The agency also warned of quakes of a similar scale for the next week or so.
Tokyo Electric Power Co, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, said workers found no abnormalities at the site, which is in the process of being decommissioned.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said there have been no problems with safety at nuclear power plants in the quake-hit areas, though there were reports that water pumps in spent-fuel storage pools temporarily stopped working at the Fukushima Daini plant.
Meanwhile, the cooling system for the spent fuel pools at the No 2 and No 5 reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi plant was also reportedly stopped temporarily.
More than 2.2 million households in the Tokyo region, including about 700,000 in Tokyo, were plunged into darkness, said TEPCO Power Grid and Tohoku Electric Power Network. Power was later restored to most households on Thursday.
A bullet train with about 100 passengers on board derailed between Fukushima Station and Shiroishizao Station in Miyagi prefecture, but no injuries were reported.
The Chinese embassy in Japan issued an emergency alert on Thursday, warning of aftershocks and secondary disasters like landslides.
"Strong aftershocks are still likely to occur within the next week. In order to ensure that nothing goes wrong, we remind overseas Chinese citizens in Japan, especially those living near the epicenter of the earthquake, to be highly alert to aftershocks and potential secondary disasters such as landslides," the embassy statement said.
A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy told China Daily, "There are no reports of casualties of Chinese citizens at the moment, and we are continuing to investigate the situation."
Public broadcaster NHK said the earthquake appears to have been the result of the apparent sinking of the Pacific plate, and it emphasized the need for vigilance for a week or so.