Sunday, May 26, 2024

Japan dodges bullet after 6.3 magnitude earthquake strikes off western coast, no tsunami

HomeTop NewsJapan dodges bullet after 6.3 magnitude earthquake strikes off western coast, no...

A powerful earthquake detonated off southwestern Japan late Wednesday, triggering extremely violent shaking that had residents describing utter panic as the ground heaved and rumbled for a terrifying 20 seconds. Despite the massive 6.3 magnitude fury unleashed beneath the Seto Inland Sea, there were no tsunami warnings issued and no immediate reports of catastrophic damage, in a remarkable stroke of luck for the quake-prone island nation.

The strong 6.3M temblor exploded at 11:13 p.m., its epic seismic upheaval emanating from 15 miles beneath the narrow strait separating the islands of Shikoku and Kyushu, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The offshore epicenter was pinpointed a mere 11 miles west of the Shikoku city of Uwajima.

While its undersea locale prevented a tsunami threat, the sheer magnitude and shallow depth translated into a prolonged, multi-island frenzy of tremors, jolts and convulsing impacts. Across the region, horrified residents watched as furniture danced, windows rattled and walls creaked from relentless seismic pounding.

“I’ve Never Felt Anything So Insane”

“I was just about to hit the sack when I felt this rumbling start and knew we were in for a big one,” an Ehime fisherman told NHK. “But nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. The shaking just went absolutely berserk – jolting up and down, side-to-side, rattling and shuddering like I’ve never, ever felt before. I was scared to death it wouldn’t stop. Small stuff was flying all over the place, crashing to the floor. I’ve never experienced anything so insane in my life.”

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While the anonymous fisherman reported no serious damage to his home, he said the unrelenting, teeth-chattering frenzy lasted at least 20 seconds and left him deeply shaken.

Panic, But No Tsunami Risk

With the offshore quake’s magnitude exceeding 6.0, the Japan Meteorological Agency tersely warned those in shaking zones to avoid hazardous areas and watch for aftershocks. But officials clearly breathed a sigh of relief that no tsunami threat materialized from the inland sea disturbance.

They also reported no abnormalities after the ultra-intense shaking at the Ikata nuclear power plant on Shikoku. Still, Prime Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said the government would investigate meticulously for any damage. A visible sense of whiplash accompanied his statement that “we will do everything to respond” to the terrifying quake’s effects.

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Japan’s Eternal Earthquake Vigil

The Pacific Ring of Fire’s seismic squeeze on the Japanese archipelago seems eternal and unavoidable. With at least four major tectonic plates grinding and slipping in a kaleidoscope of faults and fractures, the island chain sees a mind-bending 1,500 quakes every single year on average.

While most represent mild shaking events, the western prefectures impacted by Wednesday’s magnitude 6.3 earthmover know all too well the perils of complacency. The region remains deeply scarred by a devastating magnitude 7.5 inland quake on New Year’s Day that killed over 230 people, mostly due to collapsed older buildings and structures.

That sobering death toll pales compared to the horror of Japan’s worst quake disaster in March 2011 – a magnitude 9.0 megathrust monster generating towering tsunami waves that claimed nearly 18,500 lives. The twin terrors of shaking and flooding also crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant in the worst such crisis since Chernobyl.

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No Preventing Nature’s Fury

Despite continual advancements in earthquake engineering, seismic prediction and disaster preparedness, scientists concede there is no way to prevent or outmuscle the sheer, destructive fury that natureperiodically unleashes upon Japan.

The 6.3 shaker just provided its latest reminder – an awesome, frightening burst of raw, indiscriminate seismic power delivered from the restless Pacific depths. While not qualifying as catastrophic this time, many across western Japan now know that much more vicious, deadlier quakes inevitably lie ahead.

Experts warn particularly that the shallow Nankai Trough, stretching from Tokyo southward past Osaka and Kyoto, potentially harbors stresses capable of unleashing a megathrust rupture worse than the 2011 disasters. Whenever and wherever the region’s next big seismic fist hammers down, all of Japan must remain perpetually poised to endure, survive and rebuild from nature’s awesome, unyielding seismic tantrums.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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