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Strong quake strikes off Japan coast

Posted: December 7, 2012 at 3:02 a.m.

— A strong earthquake struck Friday off the coast of northeastern Japan in the same region that was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Authorities issued a warning of a possible tsunami.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.3 and struck in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Miyagi prefecture at 5:18 p.m. (0818 GMT). The epicenter was 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) beneath the seabed.

The warning said the tsunami could be as high as 2 meters (2.19 yards).

NHK television broke off regular programming to warn that a strong quake was due to hit shortly before the earthquake struck. Afterward, the announcer repeatedly urged all near the coast to flee to higher ground.

Buildings in Tokyo swayed for at least several minutes.

The magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that slammed into northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, killed or left missing some 19,000 people, devastating much of the coast. All but two of Japan's nuclear plants were shut down for checks after the earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant in the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Immediately following Friday's quake, there were no problems at any of the nuclear plants operated by Fukushima Dai-Ichi operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., said a TEPCO spokesman, Takeo Iwamoto.

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