Strong quake hits Japan's northeast coast; no tsunami alert

Strong quake hits Japan's northeast coast; no tsunami alert

A strong quake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.1 hit off the coast of eastern Japan on Saturday, shaking buildings and triggering widespread blackouts, but there appeared to be no major damage and no tsunami warning was issued.

Speaking to reporters from his office early on Sunday morning, Suga said although the damage is still being assessed, no major casualties have been reported.

Fukushima became synonymous with nuclear disaster in March 2011 when the area was hit by a 9.0 magnitude quake - the strongest in Japan's history.

A 7.1 magnitude quake was reported Saturday by the Japan Meteorological Agency at 23:08 JST with an epicenter off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture.

The M7.0 natural disaster, which was reportedly felt in Tokyo, also knocked out power in parts of Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate, and Tochigi prefectures, according to media reports.

Top government spokesman Katsunobu Kato warned that quakes of upper 6 on the seismic intensity scale could happen over the next seven days or so.

The government has set up a crisis management cell at the prime minister's office, and Prime Minister Suga has instructed the government to survey damage and rescue any victims.

There have been no reported casualties, officials said, but nearly one million homes in the region are without power.

Kato said there was no danger of a tsunamzi from the quake.

The quake also caused the country's worst nuclear disaster - three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant melted down, releasing radioactive materials into the air and more than 100,000 people were evacuated from the area. Tohoku Electric Power Co's Onagawa nuclear plant in Miyagi prefecture also appeared undamaged, the company said.

Some trains in the region were stopped after the quake. But residents of Tokyo said this was the strongest quake they had experienced in years, possibly even since the 2011 quake. "I've never felt that before", she said.

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