Japanese 7,4 quake sparks tsunami scare

Scores of villagers on a remote Japanese island chain in the Pacific scrambled for higher ground early on Wednesday after a major 7,4-magnitude offshore quake sparked a tsunami alert.

The seabed tremor struck at 2:19am local time (17:19 GMT Tuesday), jolting people out of bed as loudspeakers blared across the Ogasawara islands and authorities warned of the risk of a two-metre high local tsunami.

The tsunami alert was later downgraded and all warnings were lifted five hours after the quake hit near the islands, some 1 000 kilometres south of Tokyo. No injuries or damage were reported.

But about 120 people temporarily evacuated to higher ground on Chichi-shima island and some 50 people on Haha-shima island, Koji Watanabe, a village official on Chichi-shima, said overnight.

“It was the biggest earthquake I have ever felt,” said Masae Nagai, a hotel owner on Chichi-shima, part of the remote archipelago also called the Bonin islands, which has a population of about 2 300.

“We were awakened by the quake. It was scary,” she told Agence France-Presse (AFP) by telephone around sunrise, but she added that the walls of her hotel were not cracked and that “things have returned to normal”.

Local authorities on the Ogasawara islands, near Iwo Jima, said they had set up five shelters for residents but had closed them before sunrise in the absence of damage reports.

“The jolts were relatively stronger than those we have felt in the past,” Kenichi Mochida, another Chichi-shima official, told AFP. “But there was no panic as people acted in an orderly manner.”

Relief
Yoshihiro Ikeda, vice principal of the Ogasawara Elementary School with 123 pupils in Chichi-shima, said: “We were worried about our students as the jolt was quite strong and lasted very long.

“But we were relieved to confirm that none of our students were injured and no facilities were damaged. I guess we were quite lucky, considering the size of the quake.”

The quake hit at a shallow depth of 14km, 153km east of Chichi-shima, and was followed by a series of aftershocks measuring between 5,3 and 5,6 which continued into the morning.

About three hours after the quake, a 60cm wave was monitored 700km away at Hachijo-jima, part of the Izu island chain that runs south of Tokyo, the meteorological agency said.

Waves of up to 20cm also reached the southwestern Japanese main islands, the agency said.

The Ogasawara chain, made up of more than 30 subtropical and tropical islets some 240km north of Iwo Jima, were put under the control of the United States after World War II, and returned to Japan in 1968.

No threat
The remote islands have preserved their unique biological habitats and have been dubbed the “Galapagos of the Orient”.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said after sounding the initial alert there was no threat of a destructive widespread tsunami and no nearby islands were thought to be in the tsunami danger zone.

But it warned in a bulletin shortly after the quake: “Earthquakes of this size sometimes generate local tsunamis that can be destructive along coasts located within 100 kilometres of the earthquake epicentre.”

When a massive 8,8-magnitude quake, one of the most powerful on record, struck off Chile’s coast in February, Japan issued its top tsunami alert and ordered more than half a million people to evacuate seaside areas.

Authorities later apologised after a wave of 120cm hit and caused no injuries.

Around 20% of the world’s most powerful earthquakes strike Japan, which sits on the “Ring of Fire” surrounding the Pacific Ocean.

In 1995 a magnitude-7,2 quake in the port city of Kobe killed 6 400 people. But high building standards, regular drills and a sophisticated tsunami warning system mean that casualties are often minimal. — Sapa-AFP

Staff Reporter
Guest Author
Advertisting

Workers fight job-creation ‘mess’

Former Ekurhuleni workers argued in court that a programme promising to equip them with skills simply acted as a labour broker for the municipality

Court dissolves local municipality

Landmark judgment paves the way for South Africans to use legal system to hold councils responsible

Mabuza’s ‘distant relative’ scored big

Eskom’s woes are often because of boiler problems at its power plants. R50-billion has been set aside to fix them, but some of the contracts are going to questionable entities

ANC faction gunning for Gordhan

The ambush will take place at an NEC meeting about Eskom. But the real target is Cyril Ramaphosa
Advertising

Press Releases

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.

Innovate4AMR now in second year

SA's Team pill-Alert aims to tackle antimicrobial resistance by implementing their strategic intervention that ensures patients comply with treatment.

Medical students present solution in Geneva

Kapil Narain and Mohamed Hoosen Suleman were selected to present their strategic intervention to tackle antimicrobial resistance to an international panel of experts.