An earthquake of magnitude 7.1 has struck off the west coast of Japan’s largest island, Honshu. Initial reports say at least one person was killed and 50 injured in the tremor that was felt as far away as Tokyo. A tsunami warning was issued for a short time for the Ishikawa prefecture, with waves of up to 50cm reported. Meanwhile, two powerful earthquakes also hit near Vanuatu in the southern Pacific. US seismologists reported them as having magnitudes of 7.2 and 6.0. The larger struck at 1140 (0040 GMT Sunday), and was followed 28 minutes later by the magnitude 6.0 quake, both located 335km (210 miles) south-east of the capital, Port Vila. There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage. However, police said they were checking remote islands where the quake was closer to land areas.
The Japan earthquake struck at 0942 (0042 GMT). Its epicentre was 300km (200 miles) north-west of Tokyo about 50km (30 miles) below the seabed, Japan’s meteorological agency said. Television pictures showed buildings in the Ishikawa prefecture shaking violently for about 30 seconds and Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported that several buildings had collapsed. The BBC’s Chris Hogg in Hong Kong says there are also reports of landslides, a ruptured water main and roads being buckled by the jolt. NHK said one woman in her 50s died when a stone lantern in her garden fell on top of her. Many of those injured were hit by falling debris or broken glass and are being treated in hospital. Some are said to be badly hurt.
Government troops have been sent to the area to assist with the clear up and warnings have been issued of further aftershocks in the affected region.
Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world’s most seismically active areas.
In October 2004, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck the Niigata region in northern Japan, killing 65 people and injuring more than 3,000.
In 1995 a magnitude 7.2 tremor killed more than 6,400 people in the city of Kobe.