OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
3:11 PM – Monday, January 1, 2024
Japanese officials issued tsunami warnings and an evacuation order on Monday after a sequence of earthquakes trembled the west part of the main island.
At approximately 4 p.m. on Monday, a 7.6 preliminary magnitude earthquake was reported in Japan, which is the most powerful of over a dozen recorded by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).
The New Year’s Day earthquake also triggered waves of approximately one meter along Japan’s west coast and near South Korea.
For Ishikawa prefecture, the JMA first issued a major tsunami warning.
This was the JMA’s first action since a previous earthquake and tsunami struck northeast Japan in March 2011, killing nearly 20,000 people. The warning was later given a lower priority before being reduced to an advisory.
Ishikawa prefecture received a major tsunami warning, and less severe warnings were also issued for the remainder of the country’s western coast.
Later, the highest-level order was lifted, but locals living along the coast were still advised to “stay away from their homes” due to the risk of deadly waves.
“Every minute counts. Please evacuate to a safe area immediately,” said government spokesman Yoshimasa Hayashi.
Additionally, state television station NHK advised Japanese residents of rising water that may amount to 16.5 feet. It was predicted that a 10-foot tsunami would hit land in the Sea of Japan’s Niigata Prefecture.
As a result of the earthquakes, train lines were destroyed, electricity was cut off to tens of thousands of homes, and fires were ignited throughout multiple residential buildings, which prompted emergency response teams to arrive as soon as they could.
The earthquakes also forced residents in specific coastal locations to flee to higher ground.
In several prefectures, the Japanese Self-Defense Force is still assisting with disaster relief efforts. More powerful earthquakes could occur during the next few days, according to meteorologists.
The natural disasters also increased tsunami worries across the sea in both North Korea and Russia.
As the situation develops, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida informed the media that an emergency center has been set up to gather and distribute information regarding earthquake and tsunami risks. There are still active evacuation orders and tsunami warnings in effect.
Authorities say that at least four people have died thus far.
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