Japan issues tsunami warning after powerful earthquake off coast

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A tsunami warning is in effect for Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture after a 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck off Honshu at 5:59 a.m. Tuesday (3:59 p.m. Monday ET), according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

A tsunami wave of 1-3 meters (3-10 feet) is possible, according to the agency. The US Geological Survey put the magnitude at 6.9, striking 37 kilometers (23 miles) east-southeast of Namie off the country’s east coast at a depth of 11.4 kilometers (7 miles).

Two aftershocks were reported by USGS, one 5.4 and one 4.8.

A tsunami wave has already been spotted 22 kilometers off the coast of Iwaki City in Fukushima Prefecture, CNN affiliate NHK reported. Images of the port showed waves that the broadcaster described as “backwash” that happens before a tsunami hits shore.

The Japanese public broadcaster urged the public to evacuate, reminding people to dress warmly and help others flee.

“Please do not think that you are safe. Please evacuate to high grounds,” the network said. “Please think about the worst-case scenario and evacuate right away.”

Earthquakes are common in Japan. The most recent was a 6.2 magnitude in late October near Kurayoshi, a city to the west of Osaka, which caused a handful of injuries.

The epicenter of this latest earthquake was not far south of the 2011 quake that caused a devastating tsunami, damaged nuclear reactors and killed more than 15,000 people. The 2011 quake moved Japan’s coast 8 feet and shifted the Earth’s axis, ranking among the costliest natural disasters on record.