Residents of Japanese coastal areas were told to evacuate their homes Monday as the country braces for a tsunami after a 7.6 magnitude earthquake shook the country’s western coast. Authorities later downgraded the tsunami warnings to advisories while still urging residents to take caution.

More than a dozen earthquakes were reported in the Sea of Japan late Monday night local time, the largest of which collapsed buildings and started a fire in Wajima, the city closest to the earthquake’s epicenter, Japanese news outlet NHK reported. According to The Washington Post, at least six people were “buried alive” under rubble when buildings collapsed, citing Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi

Immediately following the earthquakes, Japan issued a “major tsunami warning” — the highest-level warning. The Japan Meteorological Agency has now downgraded that alert to a “tsunami warning” as people in the affected areas are still being told to evacuate and seek higher ground. The warning was then downgraded to a “tsunami advisory” for “all prefectures along the Sea of Japan,” NHK reported. Residents in affected areas are still urged to evacuate “until all advisories are lifted.”

NHK warned that Japanese residents could see rising water levels of up to 16.5 feet, Fox News reported. The Japan Meteorological Agency also warned that more earthquakes — potentially reaching around magnitude 7 — could hit the Japanese coast in the coming days. 

Photo by Muhammed Ali Yigit/Anadolu via Getty Images

More than 30,000 households have lost power, and mobile phone communications are also down for many people, Hayashi said. The chief cabinet secretary stressed the urgency of Japanese residents in affected areas to get to higher ground. 

“Every minute counts. Please evacuate to a safe area immediately,” he said.

At least one person has been reported dead from the earthquakes, and multiple others sustained injuries from objects falling on them. After the earthquakes, a fire reportedly broke out at a nuclear power plant in Ishikawa, but plant operators quickly extinguished it and said there was no impact on the plant, according to Hayashi. No nuclear facilities have reported any increases in radiation levels since the quake.


The last major earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 killed around 20,000 people and resulted in a major nuclear disaster that caused explosions and released radioactive material. 

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