Seismologists yesterday warned Japan to stay vigilant for the next “big one” after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit off the coast of the earthquake-prone nation, injuring a dozen people.
Buildings swayed for about a minute in Tokyo and its vicinity on Saturday night as the earthquake struck at a remote spot in the Pacific Ocean about 874km south of the capital, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.
Despite its power, there was no risk of a tsunami, as its hypocenter was 676km below the Earth’s surface, the USGS and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
Twelve people were injured, including a 56-year-old man who suffered broken ribs, but no one was killed, an official of the Tokyo Fire Department and local media said yesterday.
About 400 people were trapped on the observation decks of the Tokyo Tower as its elevators stopped for more than one hour.
Runways at Tokyo International Airport were closed for about 30 minutes, with trains also temporarily halted, while a soccer match in the city was briefly suspended.
There were no reported anomalies at any of the region’s mothballed nuclear power plants.
Saturday’s earthquake was the second sizeable tremor Tokyo has experienced in a week, after a much less powerful — but far shallower — earthquake hit close to the capital on Monday last week.
Some experts warn recent earthquakes and volcano eruptions might be signs that areas near the country are entering “an active phase of crustal changes.”
“I can say Japan is in an active stage now,” Tokai University Earthquake Prediction Research Center head Toshiyasu Nagao said.
“Considering the geographic location of Japan, we can say the current activities are rather normal and it was too quiet” before the 2011 jolt, Nagao told reporters.
“We should be vigilant by knowing that it is no wonder that an earthquake sizeable enough to affect our society can occur anytime in the future,” he said.
University of Tokyo Earthquake Research Institute professor Kazuki Koketsu said the latest tremor was unlikely to be a sign of a potential big jolt in capital, which was devastated by a massive earthquake in 1923.
However, “it is important to regard it as an opportunity to prepare for a future quake,” Koketsu told TV Asahi.
Japan sits at the meeting place of four tectonic plates and experiences about 20 percent of the world’s most powerful earthquakes every year.
However, rigid building codes and strict enforcement mean even powerful earthquakes frequently do little damage.
On Friday, a volcano in the far south of Japan erupted, spewing a huge column of ash high into the sky and forcing authorities to evacuate the island on which it sits.
The eruption caused no injuries and no damage was reported, but it served as yet another reminder of the volatile geology of the country.
A massive undersea earthquake that hit in March 2011 sent a tsunami barreling into Japan’s northeast coast, killing thousands of people and sending three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
The nuclear disaster, the world’s worst since Chernobyl, displaced tens of thousands of people and rendered tracts of land uninhabitable, possibly for decades.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big