By Ria Novosti
The evacuation of people from coastal areas is underway on Russia’s Kuril Islands following a series of powerful quakes hit Japan, a local emergencies services official said.
A series of aftershocks have also shaken the disputed islands, known as the Northern Territories in Japan. A total of 300 people have been evacuated from three costal districts, the official said. Authorities in Russia’s Far Eastern Sakhalin Island also issued a tsunami warning.
A series of powerful quakes hit Japan’s largest Honshu Island on Friday, with two major quakes measuring 8.9 and 7.1 on the Richter scale, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Five people are so far reported dead, but the death toll is expected to rise. Media reports said the quake had destroyed buildings and highways in Japan’s northern areas.
Following the quake, a 10-meter tsunami hit the Miyagi prefecture on Honshu, sweeping away houses and cars. The tsunami has reached Sendai Airport, submerging the runway, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported.
The Iwate prefecture was reported to have been hit by a 4.2-meter tsunami. Local television showed dozens of cars being washed away into the sea as the quake destroyed a coastal highway.
A powerful tremor was felt in Tokyo following the quake, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported from the scene. An oil store in Chiba, near Tokyo, ignited as a result of the tremor, with 30-meter plume of smoke billowing into the sky.
In his televised address to the nation, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordered emergencies services to “take all efforts quickly and effectively to eliminate the consequences of the earthquake.”
Japan has been hit by a series of earthquakes in the past few days, including a 7.3-magnitude quake that occurred off Japan’s northeastern coast on Wednesday.