Residents are evacuating en masse as Japan’s east coast braces for a devastating series of tsunamis.
UPDATE – 9:40am: A tsunami has been reported in Fukushima Bay. The first waves have been reported to be between 30cm and 90cm. The height of these waves may increase over time (predicted to reach 3 metres).
A 6.9 magnitude earthquake (UPDATED TO 7.4 MAGNITUDE) off the coast of Fukushima this morning has triggered a tsunami warning for the region – with seismologists predicting waves of up to three metres, enough to swallow entire buildings.
The quake struck at about 6am local time, but there have been no reports of casualties or serious structural damage yet.
However, it’s being seen as the calm before the storm, with massive waves predicted to hit the coastal towns.
Fukushima is the same city that houses the nuclear power-plant that wreaked devastation in 2011 earthquake and tsunamis.
So far, the earthquake hasn’t caused any damage to the TEPCO plant.
UPDATE – 10:03am The cooling system for the Fukushima Dalichi Nuclear Power Plant has been switched off. The Guardian has reported that “no abnormalities have been observed”.
Professor James Goff, UNSW’s Director of the Australia-Pacific Tsunami Research Centre and Natural Hazards Research Laboratory, has given his opinion on the potential impacts of the quake –
“In general, with the size of the earthquake experienced, I would not expect any wave to reach the heights of those experienced in 2011, but that does not mean that this event will not be damaging. Tsunamis as small as 90 cm can be extremely damaging and so in a sense, we are “watching this space”.
One concern is not necessarily the size of the earthquake itself but whether or not it might generate submarine landslides that can themselves generate large tsunamis.”
Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismologist, believes that this tsunami will be smaller than predicted (although no predictions can be certain)
MORE TO COME.
(Image from 2011 earthquakes. – AP Photo/Kyodo News)