A 6.1 magnitude earthquake rocked the Japanese capital Tokyo and surrounding areas Thursday evening, injuring more than 20, but the Japan Meteorological Agency said there was no risk of a tsunami.
The quake rattled buildings, stranded commuters, knocked products off store shelves and triggered resounding emergency warnings on the phones of local residents, meant to give them time to get to safety.
Early information from the JMA locates the epicenter of the earthquake in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, and indicates that it struck at 10:41 p.m. (1341 GMT) with a depth of 80 kilometers. No tsunami warning has been issued.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) estimated the strength of the earthquake to be magnitude 5.9 with a depth of 61 kilometers.
It was one of the strongest earthquakes to shake Tokyo since the massive 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in 2011 that claimed thousands of lives.
Some high-speed train and local train services were halted as a precaution after the earthquake. Tokyo residents were seen waiting early Friday at Shinagawa Station during the suspension of service, while others lined up at taxi ranks looking for alternative transportation.
Police and firefighters said more than 20 people were injured, including a female passenger who hit her head when a train suddenly stopped, according to the Kyodo news agency.
Checks were carried out at regional nuclear power plants, and Kyodo said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno confirmed that no anomalies were reported at the facilities.
Several hundred homes in Tokyo were also said to have been without power after the earthquake, and staff from the Tokyo Fire Department rushed to fix burst water pipes in the city.
The quake was relatively strong compared to recent earthquakes in Tokyo, which, like much of Japan, experiences regular seismic activity.
Newly elected Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who took office just three days before the earthquake, urged residents in a tweet to “take action to save lives while checking the latest information”.
Kishida’s government has reportedly set up a crisis management center to assess the damage and provide support if needed.
Japan is located on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches across Southeast Asia and the Pacific Basin.
Early Friday, a 5.6 magnitude earthquake rocked northwest Myanmar, with the USGS recording the depth at 114 kilometers. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
Last week, a 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit the northwest coast of Japan, causing no damage.
The country is regularly affected by earthquakes and has strict building rules to ensure buildings can withstand strong tremors.
But he remains haunted by the memory of the underwater earthquake of March 11, 2011, which triggered a deadly tsunami and triggered the nuclear accident in Fukushima.
The tsunami left some 18,500 people dead or missing.