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Japan earthquake brings small tsunami to northeastern disaster zone

6:31 AM, Dec 7, 2012   |    comments
(AP)
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TOKYO, Japan - A strong earthquake struck Friday off the coast of northeastern Japan in the same region that was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami last year. A city in the region reported that a small tsunami had hit, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

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. (0318 Eastern). The epicenter was 6.2 miles beneath the seabed.

After the quake, which caused buildings in Tokyo to sway for at least several minutes, authorities issued a warning that a tsunami potentially as high as 2.19 yards could hit. Ishinomaki, a city in Miyagi, reported that a tsunami of 1 yard hit at 6:02 p.m. (0402 Eastern).

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no risk of a widespread tsunami.

Miyagi prefectural police said there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries from the quake or tsunami, although traffic was being stopped in some places to check on roads.

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

Adam Ezard, a British expat living in Tokyo, tells CBSNews.com that Japanese media responded much more aggressively to the Friday quake than they had done in the past, with virtually all channels breaking into their regular programming, and NHK even giving information in multiple languages for the first time.

The response is an indication of how deeply the 2011 disaster affected the densely-populated island nation's psyche.

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.

© 2012 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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