A powerful 7.4-magnitude earthquake hit northeastern Japan late Thursday, seismologists said, prompting Japanese authorities to issue a localised tsunami alert. The quake, which hit at 11:32 pm local time (1432 GMT), had a magnitude of 7.4, according to the US Geological Survey, which said it struck 66 kilometres (40 miles) east of Sendai.
Japan’s weather bureau issued a tsunami alert for the Pacific coast, saying that waves of up to two metres could hit the shoreline. In a statement on its website the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said it did not expect a Pacific-wide tsunami.
The quake had a depth of 25.6 kilometres (15.9 miles), the USGS said. Although the epicentre was at a distance of 333 kilometres (207 miles) from Tokyo, it caused buildings to shake in the Japanese capital. “Please do not hesitate to leave for higher ground, nor try to return to the coast line. Please do not try to check the status of the coastline,” broadcaster NHK said repeatedly.