Earthquake rocks Japan, triggering fears of tsunami

John Bacon
A magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck off northwestern Japan on Tuesday, triggering a tsunami advisory for three prefectures in the region.

A magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck off northwestern Japan on Tuesday, triggering a tsunami advisory for three prefectures in the region.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake struck Tuesday night at 10:22, or 9:22 a.m. EDT, 30 miles southwest of Sakata and more than six miles below the surface. Sakata is about 200 miles north of Tokyo.

Officials in Murakami, a city of 60,000 people in Niigata Prefecture, told Japan's Kyodo news service the jolt from the quake rumbled for about a minute. There were no immediate reports of serious damage, however.

Some train lines suspended operations, and Tohoku Electric said about 8,200 homes and businesses were without power. No problems were reported at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, a nuclear plant in the region.

The tsunami advisory was for Yamagata, Niigata and Ishikawa Prefectures. Japan Meteorological Agency said the first small wave of tsunami reached Awashima Island in Niigata Prefecture at 11:05 p.m. The wave reached Sakata in Yamagata Prefecture a short time later.

Earthquakes are not uncommon in Japan. In 2011, the nation of 130 million people was rocked by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck in the Pacific Ocean. The Great East Japan Earthquake triggered a massive tsunami that flooded more than 200 square miles of coastal land. More than 15,000 died in the disaster, and two nuclear power plants were severely damaged and have not been in operation since.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Earthquake rocks Japan, triggering fears of tsunami