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Strong quake hits off Japan near Fukushima disaster zone

08 December, 2012

TOKYO: A strong quake centred off northeastern Japan shook buildings as far away as Tokyo on Friday 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.

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 Friday'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 4 in Tokyo.

"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."

End.

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