A major earthquake shook Japan this morning, but there is no tsunami threat to Hawaii.
The preliminary magnitude 7.0 quake struck Kyushu — the same Japanese island rocked by a deadly quake yesterday — at 6:25 a.m. Hawaii time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The epicenter of the temblor was centered about a half mile west-southwest of Kumamoto-shi, Japan at a depth of 6.2 miles, according to a USGS report.
Officials at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there is no tsunami threat to Hawaii, and a Pacific-wide tsunami was not expected. Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued an advisory for a tsunami up to 3 feet high along the coast west of the epicenter in Kumamoto; the advisory was lifted less than an hour later.
While it was not immediately clear whether the latest quake increased the death toll, Japanese broadcaster NHK said a number of calls were coming in from residents reporting people being trapped inside houses and buildings. Video showed a resident, apparently rescued from underneath a collapsed house, on a stretcher being taken to a hospital by ambulance.
Thursday’s earthquake in the same region measured magnitude 6.5 and left nine people dead and over 800 people injured.
Sirens of patrol vehicles were heard on the background as NHK reported from the hardest-hit town of Mashiki. The asphalt outside the town hall had a new crack, apparently made by the latest earthquake.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority said no abnormalities were found at the Sendai nuclear plant, where the only two of Japan’s 43 operable reactors are online. NHK video showed that stones tumbled from the walls of historic Kumamoto Castle, and a wooden structure in the complex was smashing, adding to damage Thursday at the site.
At the Ark Hotel, east of the castle, hotel guests woke up to strong shaking and a warning siren. Hotel staff asked guests, including tourists and journalists covering the quake, to evacuate their rooms and gather in the lobby for safety.
Thursday’s weaker, magnitude 6.5 earthquake brought down buildings and injured about 800 people, in addition to the nine deaths. The epicenter of Saturday’s earthquake was about 8 miles northwest of Thursday’s, and at a depth of about 6 miles, Saturday’s quake was shallower.
It hit residents who were still in shock from the previous night’s horrors and had suffered through more than 100 aftershocks in the interim.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, Mashiki sits near two faults on Kyushu. The area is also near Mount Aso, a huge, active volcano. JMA officials said the quake was unusually strong for Kyushu.