By Martyn Williams
A powerful 7.1 magnitude aftershock has rocked a large portion of eastern Japan, less than four weeks after an even stronger quake left thousands of people dead and caused a nuclear power disaster.
Japan’s NHK television immediately broke into programming late Thursday night with news of the earthquake, which struck at at 11:32 in the evening, and to warn of a possible tsunami.
The announcer warns people near the coast to move immediately to higher ground. NHK also told people to stay away from buildings that were damaged by the 9.0 earthquake on March 11.
The earthquake was centered under the Pacific Ocean off Japan’s eastern coast in the same general area as last month’s earthquake and tsunami, which killed more than 12,000 people and left more than 14,000 missing.
That earthquake damaged a nuclear power plant on the coast in Fukushima Prefecture. Shortly after Thursday’s aftershock, the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power, said there were no new immediate problems found at the Fukushima Daiichi power station.
TV images showed violent shaking in cities across northern Japan.
In Sendai city, the capital of Miyagi prefecture, lights went off as the power failed during the earthquake. The quake was felt far down the coast, and Tokyo experienced strong shaking that lasted for at least a minute.