TOKYO (Reuters) – A tsunami warning was issued for northern Japan and Russia’s northeastern coast after a major quake shook the Kurile islands on Wednesday, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said. NHK public television in Japan said the first wave of the tsunami was expected to arrive shortly after 9 p.m. (1200 GMT) and was predicted to range from 1 to 2 meters in Hokkaido. The site of the quake was roughly 1,700 km (1,000 miles) northeast of Tokyo. A lesser warning was issued for a wide swathe of the eastern coast of northern and central Honshu, Japan’s main island, but most waves in these areas were only expected to be a maximum of 50 cm.
A tsunami warning was also issued to all coastal areas in the Kuriles, NHK quoted Itar-Tass news agency as saying.
Hokkaido residents reported feeling little to no shaking from the earthquake, but authorities stopped trains in the eastern part of Hokkaido and warned people to move to higher ground.
“We have been repeatedly urging people to evacuate. We did not feel an earthquake,” Yasukatsu Imai, an official at the government of Nemuro, on the Pacific coast of eastern Hokkaido, told NHK.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake, which it estimated at magnitude 7.8, occurred at 8:14 p.m. (1114 GMT) at a depth of 27.7 km below the seabed.
The Kuriles are known as the Chishima islands in Japan. Japan claims the four islands closest to Hokkaido, which it calls the Northern Territories but are called the Southern Kuriles by Russia, in a long-running territorial dispute.