The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the earthquake struck at a depth of 47 kilometres (29 miles) in the Pacific, off the coast of Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture — close to the epicentre of a massive earthquake that triggered a massive tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people in 2011 in the region.
A tsunami warning has been issued by Japan’s meteorological office in the wake of Saturday’s earthquake, which caused severe shaking throughout portions of the country’s eastern coast and could be felt in Tokyo as well.
“We are still gathering information, but we have not received any reports of casualties or property damage,” said Tomoki Sawata, a spokesperson for the local administration, who described the earthquake as “quite powerful.”
Local railway companies, including shinkansen bullet trains, have halted operations, said Japanese national broadcaster NHK, while elevators have been shut down in several Miyagi buildings.
TEPCO, the operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, said the facility, which melted down in the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami, had not shown any anomalies following the recent shock.
“As is customary, operations are already underway,” TEPCO spokesperson Koichiro Shiraki told AFP.
As a member of the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” Japan is situated on an arc of high seismic activity that extends from Southeast Asia through the Pacific basin to Japan.
The nation is often rocked by earthquakes, and the government has enacted stringent building codes to guarantee that structures can survive powerful shocks.
In March, a powerful earthquake of a magnitude of 7.2 hit off the northeastern coast of the United States. There was a tsunami warning issued by the Japanese government, however there was none reported along the shoreline.
In February, the area was jolted by another powerful earthquake that left scores of people wounded. Meteorologists determined that it was a result of the 2011 earthquake.