A powerful earthquake rocked northern Japan early on Tuesday, briefly disrupting cooling functions at a nuclear plant and generating a small tsunami that hit the same Fukushima region devastated by a 2011 quake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
The magnitude 7.4 earthquake, which was felt in Tokyo, sent thousands of residents fleeing for higher ground as dawn broke along the northeastern coast.
There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries several hours after the quake hit at 5:59 AM. It was centered off the coast of Fukushima prefecture at a depth of about 10 kilometers, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.
The cooling system for a storage pool for spent nuclear fuel at the reactor at its Fukushima Daini Plant was initially halted on Tuesday, said a spokeswoman for Tokyo Electric Power, known as Tepco, but was restarted soon after.
Fukushima prefecture is north of Tokyo and home to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, site of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters after a March 2011 earthquake-driven tsunami struck.
The March 11, 2011, quake was magnitude 9, the strongest quake in Japan on record. The massive tsunami it triggered caused world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl a quarter of a century earlier.