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Quake jolts Japan

TOKYO — A strong quake centred off northeastern Japan shook buildings as far away as Tokyo today and triggered a one-metre tsunami in an area devastated by last year’s Fukushima disaster, but there were no reports of deaths or serious damage.

Passengers gather after train services were suspended following an earthquake at Sendai station in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture.

The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.3, the US Geological Survey said, and thousands of coastal residents were ordered to evacuate to higher ground, but the tsunami warning was lifted two hours after the tremor struck.

The March 2011 earthquake and following tsunami killed nearly 20,000 people and triggered the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years when the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant was destroyed, leaking radiation into the sea and air.

Workers at the plant were ordered to move to safety after today’s quake. Tokyo Electric Power Co, the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant, reported no irregularities at its nuclear plants.

All but two of Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors have been idled since the Fukushima disaster as the government reviews safety.

The quake measured a “lower 5” in Miyagi prefecture on Japan’s scale of one to seven, meaning there might be some damage to roads and houses that are less quake resistant.

The scale measures the amount of shaking and in that sense gives a better idea of possible damage than the magnitude. The quake registered a four in Tokyo.

The one-metre tsunami hit at Ishinomaki, in Miyagi, at the centre of the devastation from the March 2011 disaster. All Miyagi trains halted operations and Sendai airport, which was flooded by the tsunami last year, closed its runway.

Five people in the prefecture were slightly injured.

“I was in the centre of the city the very moment the earthquake struck. I immediately jumped into the car and started running away towards the mountains. I’m still hiding inside the car,” said Ishinomaki resident Chikako Iwai.

“I have the radio on and they say the cars are still stuck in the traffic. I’m planning to stay here for the next couple of hours.” (Reuters)

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