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Earthquake in Japan Hours after 2012 Fukushima Aftershock

Japan Earthquake Map

The US Geological Survey reported a second, weaker earthquake on December 7, 2012 just after midnight JST (6:32am PST) off the east coast of Honshu, Japan. With an estimated magnitude of 4.7, this minor tremor was much smaller than the 7.3 quake that shook northeastern Japan several hours earlier.

US Geological Survey reported the epicenter was located at 37.762N 143.637E; or 154 miles east-southeast of Sendai, 158 miles east-northeast of Iwaki, 173 miles east of Fukushima and 259 miles northeast of Tokyo. The earthquake was thought to be about 22 miles beneath the surface.

So far, no related death and nearly no structural damage has been reported from either earthquake. Thanks to Japan’s warning system being perfected, people in the area had almost six minutes to prepare and take precautions between the first estimated earthquake intensity and the moment it struck. After withstanding seismic activity that could have killed thousands in less-prepared parts of the world, cleverly designed new buildings coped with the shaking much better than the citizens of the effected areas.

Many recent NHK public television tsunami warnings were presented with a worried tone, uncharacteristic of previous Japanese news in the face of disaster, and for the first time in multiple languages. The frantic plea of one host to “flee now to save your life!” was a drastic departure from the more composed warnings of the past.

After what is believed to be an aftershock of the devastating March 2011 Fukushima earthquake, buildings sways and people swarmed to evacuate as far away as Tokyo. “I was in the center of the city the very moment the earthquake struck,” said Ishinomaki resident Chikako Iwai to Reuters, “I immediately jumped into the car and started running away towards the mountains. I’m still hiding inside the car. I have the radio on and they say the cars are still stuck in the traffic. I’m planning to stay here for the next couple of hours.”

Only two of the 50 nuclear power plants in Japan are still operating, the others were already idle pending government safety reviews prompted by the 2011 quake. Neither plant has reported any irregularities. These recent aftershocks mostly effected empty areas already devastated in Fukushima, where 325,000 people in the region are still living in temporary accommodation.

After seeing only small tsunamis caused by these quakes, the largest about three feet, Japan has since ceased the tsunami warnings.

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