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7.3-magnitude earthquake hits off the coast of Fukushima, triggers tsunami advisory

TOKYO — A massive 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima, triggering blackouts and a one-meter-high tsunami advisory in the region 11 years after it was devastated by a deadly quake.

The earthquake near Namie, Japan, was reported just before 11 a.m. ET on Wednesday, which is around midnight Thursday there. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake struck about 36 miles below the sea.

Scattered goods caused by an earthquake are seen at a convenience store in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, Japan on March 17, 2022.
Scattered goods caused by an earthquake are seen at a convenience store in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, Japan on March 17, 2022.Kyodo via Reuters

A tsunami advisory was issued but the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center later said there was no longer a threat. The Japan Meteorological Agency, however, kept a low-risk advisory in place.

Namie is a small town in the Fukushima prefecture. Police said there were no reports of injuries or damage from the initial quake, according to local news station NHK Fukushima.

March 16, 202200:24

Two aftershocks in Japan left seven people injured including six from falling objects, the station reported. An 80-year-old man was hospitalized after he tripped and sprained his leg.

Around two million homes across nine prefectures, including Tokyo, are experiencing blackouts, TEPCO Power Grid reported.

The Meteorological Agency advised residents to stay away from the coast and to watch out for possible landslides.

The northern Japan region was devastated by a deadly 9.0 quake and tsunami 11 years ago that caused nuclear plant meltdowns.

More than 20,000 people were estimated to have died when the March 11, 2011, quake set off a tsunami that swept inland, destroying towns and causing meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The disaster left nearly half a million people displaced. 

The government has spent approximately $300 billion to rebuild the region but said safely decommissioning the plant could take decades and billions of dollars.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Wednesday there were no issues detected at the nuclear plant in Onagawa or at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, although a fire alarm went off inside the turbine building of Unit 5. The power company and the fire department investigated the alarm and determined there was no fire, according to NHK Fukushima.

Arata Yamamoto reported from Tokyo, and Minyvonne Burke from New York.

The Associated Press contributed.