Japan braces for 16ft tsunami after powerful earthquake – in pictures

Japan is on alert for a five-metre (16ft) tsunami after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck the country on Monday morning, prompting evacuation warnings for residents along hundreds of kilometres of coast.

A tsunami warning was issued for Ishikawa in central Japan, with other lower-level warnings in place for the rest of the Western coast of the country’s main island of Honshu.

Waves, some more than a metre high, have already struck parts of the northern coast of central Japan, according to NHK TV.

“Run!” a bright-yellow warning flashed on the Japanese public broadcaster NHK TV, advising residents in some coastal areas to immediately evacuate their homes.

ANKARA, TURKIYE - JANUARY 01: An infographic titled 'Series of powerful earthquakes strikes Japan, triggering tsunami alert' created in Ankara, Turkiye on January 1, 2024. (Photo by Muhammed Ali Yigit/Anadolu via Getty Images)
A series of powerful earthquakes has hit Japan, triggering a tsunami alert (Image: Muhammed Ali Yigit/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary said a tsunami of about 5m (16ft) was expected for the Noto region of Ishikawa prefecture, as he urged people to move to high ground.

Buildings have collapsed and an estimated 40,000 homes have lost power in Ishikawa and Toyama prefectures, with flights and rail services in the region disrupted.

A part of a commercial facility collapses in Kaga, Ishikawa prefecture, Japan Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. Japan issued tsunami alerts and told people to evacuate seaside areas after a series of strong quakes on its western coastline Monday. (Kyodo News via AP)
Part of a commercial building collapses in Kaga, Ishikawa prefecture (Photo: Kyodo News/ AP)
TOPSHOT - This image taken in Hong Kong on January 1, 2024 shows a warning message on a screen from a live feed on NHK World asking people to evacuate from the area after a series of major earthquakes hit central Japan. A powerful 7.5 earthquake hit central Japan on January 1, the USGS said, prompting tsunami warnings and authorities to urge people in the area to move to higher ground. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP) (Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)
A warning message on a screen from a live feed on NHK World asking people to evacuate from the area after a series of earthquakes hit central Japan (Photo: Mladen Antonov /AFP)
WAJIMA, JAPAN - JANUARY 01: In this aerial image, fire breaks out after multiple strong earthquakes jolt on January 1, 2024 in Wajima, Ishikawa, Japan. A tsunami warning was issued across Japan's coastline after a series of earthquakes, the biggest measuring 7.6 magnitude, hit the areas around Toyama and Niigata in central Japan. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
Fire broke out after several strong earthquakes in Wajima, Ishikawa (Photo: Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
This general view shows badly damaged buildings along a street in the city of Wajima, Ishikawa prefecture on January 1, 2024, after a major 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck the Noto region in Ishikawa prefecture in the afternoon. Tsunami waves over a metre high hit central Japan on January 1 after a series of powerful earthquakes that damaged homes, closed highways and prompted authorities to urge people to run to higher ground. (Photo by Yusuke FUKUHARA / Yomiuri Shimbun / AFP) / Japan OUT / NO ARCHIVES - MANDATORY CREDIT: Yomiuri Shimbun (Photo by YUSUKE FUKUHARA/Yomiuri Shimbun/AFP via Getty Images)
Damaged buildings in the city of Wajima, Ishikawa after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck the Noto region (Photo: Yusuke Fukuhara/Yomiuri Shimbun/AFP)
A car drives past a badly damaged pavement along a street in the city of Wajima, Ishikawa prefecture on January 1, 2024, after a major 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck the Noto region in Ishikawa prefecture in the afternoon. Tsunami waves over a metre high hit central Japan on January 1 after a series of powerful earthquakes that damaged homes, closed highways and prompted authorities to urge people to run to higher ground. (Photo by Yusuke FUKUHARA / Yomiuri Shimbun / AFP) / Japan OUT / NO ARCHIVES - MANDATORY CREDIT: Yomiuri Shimbun (Photo by YUSUKE FUKUHARA/Yomiuri Shimbun/AFP via Getty Images)
Badly damaged pavement in the city of Wajima after the earthquake (Photo: Yusuke Fukuhara/ Yomiuri Shimbun/AFP)
TOPSHOT - People stand next to large cracks in the pavement after evacuating into a street in the city of Wajima, Ishikawa prefecture on January 1, 2024, after a major 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck the Noto region in Ishikawa prefecture in the afternoon. Tsunami waves over a metre high hit central Japan on January 1 after a series of powerful earthquakes that damaged homes, closed highways and prompted authorities to urge people to run to higher ground. (Photo by Yusuke FUKUHARA / Yomiuri Shimbun / AFP) / Japan OUT / NO ARCHIVES - MANDATORY CREDIT: Yomiuri Shimbun (Photo by YUSUKE FUKUHARA/Yomiuri Shimbun/AFP via Getty Images)
Large cracks appeared in the pavement in Wajima (Photo: Yusuke Fukuhara/Yomiuri Shimbun/AFP)
Books are scattered at a bookstore in Niigata, Japan following an earthquake Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. Japan issued tsunami alerts and told people to evacuate seaside areas after a series of strong quakes on its western coastline Monday. (Kyodo News via AP)
A bookshop in Niigata after one of a series of earthquakes (Photo: Kyodo News via AP)

Footage broadcast by NHK TV showed a building collapsing in a plume of dust in the city of Suzu and residents in Kanazawa city cowering under tables amid tremors. The quake also shook buildings in Tokyo, on the opposite coast.

Fumio Kishida, the Japanese Prime Minister, said: “Residents need to stay on alert for further possible quakes and I urge people in areas where tsunamis are expected to evacuate as soon as possible.”

A collapsed house following an earthquake is seen in Wajima, Ishikawa prefecture, Japan January 1, 2024, in this photo released by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN
A collapsed house in Wajima following an earthquake (Photo: Kyodo/ Reuters)
People evacuate to higher ground at a parking space of a junior high school after a tsunami warning issued caused by an earthquake in Wajima, Ishikawa prefecture, Japan January 1, 2024, in this still image from a video released by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN
People evacuate to higher ground at a parking space of a junior high school after a tsunami warning issued caused by the earthquake in Wajima (Photo: Kyodo/ Reuters)
Cracks are seen on the ground in Wajima, Ishikawa prefecture, Japan Monday, Jan. 1, 2024, following an earthquake. Japan issued tsunami alerts Monday after a series of strong quakes in the Sea of Japan. (Kyodo News via AP)
Cracks are seen on the ground in Wajima (Photo: Kyodo/ Reuters)

Residents along the coast of the Sea of Japan were told to flee to high land or the top of a nearby building as quickly as possible.

It marks the first major warnings since the earthquake and tsunami that struck north-eastern Japan in March 2011, which killed an estimated 20,000 people and caused the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.

NIIGATA, JAPAN - JANUARY 01: A sign to inform all the train service has been suspended after multiple strong earthquakes jolt at JR Niigata Station on January 1, 2024 in Niigata, Japan. A tsunami warning was issued across Japan's coastline after a series of earthquakes, the biggest measuring 7.6 magnitude, hit the areas around Toyama and Niigata in central Japan. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
Train services were suspended after several earthquakes at JR Niigata Station (Photo: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
A torii gate is damaged after an earthquake at a shrine in Kanazawa, Ishikawa prefecture, Japan Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. Japan issued tsunami alerts Monday after a series of strong quakes in the Sea of Japan. (Kyodo News via AP)
The gateway to a shrine in Kanazawa, Ishikawa prefecture after a series of strong quakes in the Sea of Japan (Photo: Kyodo News via AP)

Russia, South Korea and North Korea have also issued tsunami warnings following the quakes.

A series of quakes ranging in magnitude from 3.6 to 7.6 struck off the coast of Ishikawa and nearby prefectures shortly after 4pm local time, (7am GMT), the Japan Meteorological Agency reported.

Waves as high as 1.2m (4ft) hit Wajima port at 4.21pm local time (7.21am GMT), according to the national broadcaster NHK.

Customers crouch following an earthquake at a supermarket in Toyama, Japan Sunday, Jan. 1, 2024. Japan issued tsunami alerts and told people to evacuate seaside areas after a series of strong quakes on its western coastline Monday. (Kyodo News via AP)
Customers crouch following an earthquake at a supermarket in Toyama, Japan (Photo: Kyodo News via AP)
A bookshelf falls at a home in Nagaoka, Niigata prefecture, Japan Sunday, Jan. 1, 2024, following an earthquake. Japan issued tsunami alerts Monday after a series of strong quakes in the Sea of Japan. (Kyodo News via AP)
A bookshelf falls at a home in Nagaoka, Niigata prefecture following an earthquake (Photo: Kyodo News via AP)
People stand near a collapsed torii gate caused by an earthquake at Onohiyoshi Shrine in Kanazawa, Ishikawa prefecture, Japan January 1, 2024, in this photo released by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN
Onohiyoshi Shrine in Kanazawa, Ishikawa after one of the quakes (Photo: Kyodo/Reuters)

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued tsunami warnings for the coastal prefectures of Ishikawa, Niigata and Toyama.

Authorities have also issued tsunami warnings for neighbouring Niigata and Toyama prefectures, warning that waves there could reach a height of three metres.

People sit on the floor as items fall from shelves on the ground inside a store as an earthquake hits, in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan January 1, 2024, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video. Instagram @hsu.tw/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
People sit on the floor after items fall from shelves on the ground at a store as an earthquake hits, in Kanazawa, Ishikawa (Photo: Instagram @hsu.tw/via Reuters)
People walk along a road damaged by an earthquake, in Wajima, Ishikawa prefecture, Japan January 1, 2024, in this image released by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN
People walk along a road damaged by an earthquake, in Wajima, Ishikawa (Photo: Kyodo via Reuters)
A member of Korea coast guard patrols to watch for possible changes in sea levels on a beach in Gangneung, South Korea, Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. (You Hyung-jae/Yonhap via AP)
A member of the coastguard was on alert for possible changes in sea levels on a beach in Gangneung, South Korea (Photo: You Hyung-jae/Yonhap via AP)

No irregularities have been reported from nuclear power plants along the Sea of Japan, the country’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has said.

Russia issued tsunami warnings in its far eastern cities of Vladivostok and Nakhodka.

The state news agency Tass said that areas of Sakhalin island’s western coast and the mainland Primorsk and Khabarovsk regions, which are situated close to Japan, are on alert.

North Korea issued tsunami warnings for its east coast, saying waves of up to seven feet could reach its shore, Yonhap news reported citing the North’s state radio.

A 45cm (1.5 ft) wave hit South Korea’s east coast at 9.21am GMT, South Korea’s meteorological agency said.

The tsunami can grow after the initial waves and may continue for more than 24 hours, the agency said.

South Korea’s Gangwon province warned residents to evacuate to higher ground, according to the ministry of interior and safety.