Powerful Earthquake Hits Japan, and Officials Warn of Aftershocks

A powerful earthquake struck western Japan on Monday, triggering tsunami warnings and evacuation orders, trapping people under collapsed buildings and disrupting electricity and mobile phone services in Ishikawa Prefecture, the epicenter of the quake, the Japanese authoritiessaid.

Initial reports suggested the quake did not cause the major tsunami waves or fatalities that had initially been feared, but officials cautioned about the possibility that major aftershocks could occur over the next week, and particularly in the next few days.

The quake struck the Noto Peninsula around 4:10 p.m. and had a magnitude of 7.6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. At least four people died as a result of the quake, according to to authorities in Ishikawa Prefecture.It was much weaker than the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan in 2011, causing a tsunami that killed thousands and led to a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima power plant.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshimasa Hayashi, said that Monday’s quake had left at least six people trapped under rubble in Ishikawa, butstill more were feared trapped or injured. Officials in that city said they were overwhelmed by the number of people calling for help, with one fire station there receiving more than 50 calls reporting collapsed buildings, the public broadcaster NHK reported.

Map: Earthquake Strikes Japan

View the location of the quake’s epicenter and shake area.

The Japan Meteorological Agency initially issued a major tsunami warning and said that waves could reach as high as five meters — or 16 feet — in the parts of the Noto Peninsula facing the Japan Sea. They ordered residents to leave for higher ground immediately.

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