Tsunami warning lifted after Japan earthquake

Wed, Jan 19, 2005, 00:00

Japan lifted a tsunami warning that was issued for a group of islands south of Tokyo today after a strong earthquake off its eastern coast.

Japan's Meteorological Agency said it had lifted the tsunami warning nearly two hours after a magnitude 6.8 quake with its focus about 10 km below the seabed in the Pacific Ocean.

There were no reports of damage or injuries caused by the quake or tsunami.

Tsunami around 50 cm high had been expected to hit the Izu islands around 3.30 p.m. (6.30 Irish time), the agency said.

A tsunami 30 cm high was later detected on the shore of Miyake Island. While there were no immediate reports of damage, public broadcaster NHK and local officials had urged caution and called for local residents near the shore to evacuate.

"We are urging local residents to evacuate to high ground ... I believe there are few fishermen working along the shore. They can't work because the sea is rough," Mr Haruyoshi Shimizu, an official at the Kozu town office on Kozu Island, told NHK.

NHK called for vigilance, saying tsunami could hit two or three times. "The sea level has not risen so far ... We are urging local residents to be cautious," Mr Mochimaru Koumatsu, an official in Hachijo town, near where the quake struck, told NHK.

The Izu islands, with a total population of some 28,500, consist of a chain of seven small islands around 100-350 km south of Tokyo.

The magnitude of the quake was measured according to a technique similar to the Richter scale, but adjusted for Japan's geological characteristics.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world's most seismically active areas. The country accounts for about 20 per cent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

Last October an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck the Niigata region of northern Japan, killing 40 people and injuring more than 3,000. That was the deadliest quake since a magnitude 7.3 tremor hit the city of Kobe on January 17th, 1995, killing more than 6,400.