Magnitude 5.3 quake hits off north-eastern Japan

A 5.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Ibaraki prefecture in Japan on Aug 19, 2016.
A 5.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Ibaraki prefecture in Japan on Aug 19, 2016.PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM USGS

TOKYO (AFP) - A magnitude 5.3 undersea earthquake struck Japan Friday (Aug 19) off the coast of Ibaraki prefecture, just south of Fukushima, though there were no immediate reports of damages.

The quake struck at about 9.07pm (8.07pm Singapore time) at a depth of some 37km, the US Geological Survey said.

Buildings in Tokyo were shaken by the jolt, but there was no threat of a tsunami from the quake, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, battered by a massive 2011 earthquake-generated tsunami and now undergoing decommissioning, has shown no irregularities in radiation levels, a spokesman for operator Tokyo Electric Power told AFP.

Japan sits at the junction of four tectonic plates and experiences a number of relatively violent quakes every year, but rigid building codes and their strict enforcement mean even strong tremors often do little damage.

But the massive undersea quake that hit in March 2011 sent a tsunami barreling into Japan's north-east coast, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or missing, and sending three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

In April, two strong earthquakes hit southern Japan's Kumamoto prefecture followed by more than 1,700 aftershocks, leaving 50 dead and causing widespread damage.