A more powerful Japan earthquake rocked the southern Japanese city of Kumamoto in the middle of the night, a day after an earlier tremor killed 9 people
The U.S. Geological Survey reported that the latest Japan earthquake struck just west-southwest of Kumamoto-shi and about 6 miles south-southeast of Ueki, the epicenter of the late Thursday tremor that left nine dead.
It was not immediately clear whether anyone was injured or killed as a result of Saturday’s seismic event. Nor was it clear how much damage, if any, had been caused, though there’s plenty of reason to be concerned.
“No question, this is a large Japan earthquake,” said Doug Given, a geophysicist with the USGS. “And it will do a lot of damage.”
The quake prompted the Japan Meteorological Agency to issue a tsunami advisory for coastal regions of Japan on the Ariake Sea and Yatsushiro Sea around 2 a.m. Saturday (1 p.m. ET Friday). Tsunami advisories are issued when the tsunami height is expected to be between 0.2 and 1 meter (0.65 to 3.3 feet). A warning would be for larger tsunamis.
The agency subsequently lifted all tsunami warnings and advisories.
As Given noted, “the four islands of Japan are on the edge of what’s traditionally been known as the ‘Ring of Fire'” — a stretch along parts of the Pacific Ocean prone to volcanoes and earthquakes.
Victor Sardina, a geophysicist in Honolulu, Hawaii, told news agencies that the latest Japan earthquake was about 30 times more powerful than Thursday’s deadly tremor. He predicted “severe, serious implications in terms of damage and human losses.”
The shallow depth of the quake — about 10 kilometers or 6 miles — and the densely populated area where it struck could prove to be devastating, according to experts.
“This looks like it’s going to be a very damaging earthquake. I think we can expect that this is going to be far worst” than Thursday’s tremor, said Tom Jordan, director of the Southern California Earthquake Center.