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Tsunami hits Japan after strong quake

AAP logoAAP 21/11/2016

A tsunami warning has been lifted after waves of up to 1.4 metres hit the Japanese coast following a magnitude 7.4 earthquake early on Tuesday morning.

The warning for Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures on the Pacific in northeast Japan has been lifted.

The highest tsunami was recorded at Sendai Bay about two hours after the earthquake. The Japan Meteorological Agency has recorded smaller waves along the coast. It warned that waves of up to 3 metres could reach Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures.

The earthquake, which was felt in Tokyo, was centred off the coast of Fukushima prefecture at a depth of about 10 km, the the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

A tsunami of up to 1.4 metres was observed around Sendai, about 70 km north of Fukushima, following the quake, which struck at 6 am (0800 AEST), public broadcaster NHK said.

Television footage showed ships moving out to sea from harbours as tsunami warning signals wailed, after warnings of waves of up to 3 metres were issued. Long lines of cars with their headlights formed as coastal residents sought higher ground.

"We saw high waves but nothing that went over the tidal barriers," a man in the city of Iwaki told NTV television network.

All Japan's nuclear power plants on the coast threatened by the tsunami are shut down following the March 2011 disaster, which knocked out Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, spilling radiation into the air and sea.

A spokeswoman for Tokyo Electric Power, known as Tepco, said the cooling system for a storage pool for spent nuclear fuel at the reactor at its Fukushima Daini Plant had been halted. A spokesman said the cooling system had restarted soon after.

No other damage from the quake has been confirmed at any of its power plants, although there have been blackouts in some areas, the spokeswoman said.

Tohoku Electric Power said there was no damage to its Onagawa nuclear plant, while the Kyodo news agency reported there were no irregularities at the Tokai Daini nuclear plant in Ibaraki prefecture.

One woman suffered cuts to her head from falling dishes, Kyodo news agency reported, citing fire department officials. Japanese Minister for Disaster Management Jun Matsumoto told reporters about three hours after the quake that there had been no reports of significant injuries.

The US Geological Survey measured Tuesday's quake at magnitude 6.9, down from an initial 7.3.

An Iwaki city fire department official said there was smoke or fire at Kureha's research centre in a petrochemical complex in Iwaki city but it was extinguished soon after.

Japan's famous Shinkansen bullet trains were halted along one stretch of track and some other train lines were also stopped.

Footage from Kesennuma, one of the worst-hit cities in 2011, showed a deserted fish market with what appeared to be fish lying on the floor.

One hotel in Ofunato, also badly hit by the 2011 quake, initially told guests to stay in the facility but later bussed them to higher ground.

Japanese financial markets were little affected.

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