Japan issues tsunami alert after major earthquake
The alert was issued for coastal regions in central Japan after an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.4. hit the area. Residents were urged to immediately evacuate
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) on Monday issued a tsunami warning along the western coastal regions of Ishikawa, Niigata and Toyama prefectures.
The agency said the Ishikawa prefecture, in the Noto region along the Sea of Japan, was hit by a series of quakes measuring a preliminary magnitude of 7.4.
It issued a major tsunami warning for Ishikawa, while the rest of the northwestern coast of Japan's island of Honshu was issued lower-level tsunami warnings or advisories.
Public broadcaster NHK warned torrents of water could reach as high as 5 meters (16.5 feet).
NHK reported that smaller tsunami waves were already confirmed to have reached the coastline.
What do we know about the earthquake?
The Noto region saw a rapid succession of earthquakes, starting with a 5.7 magnitude tremor at around 4:06 p.m. local time (0704 UTC).
A 7.6-magnitude quake hit just four minutes later and was followed by a series of weaker tremors for around half an hour.
According to media reports, buildings swayed in the area around the capital, Tokyo, on the central coast of Honshu.
Broadcasters switched to special programming and were making urgent appeals for residents to leave.
"We realize your home and your belongings are all precious to you, but your lives are important above everything else. Run to the highest ground possible," a presenter on broadcaster NHK told viewers.
Nuclear plants report no abnormalities
The Japanese government said no abnormalities were reported at the nuclear plant in the area and nearby stations.
Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority said the Shika plant in Ishikawa, the closest to the quake's epicenter, had already halted its two reactors before the tremors for regular inspection.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the government has set up a special emergency center to gather information on the quakes and tsunami and relay them quickly to residents.
A news conference was planned for 0910 UTC.
In 2011, a major quake and tsunami killed nearly 20,000 people, devastated towns and triggered nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima.