Holding the Breath

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Japanese authorities issued a series of tsunami warnings and evacuation orders across the country Monday after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake shook the country’s western coast, sparking fears of a repeat of 2011’s disaster, the Washington Post reported.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake erupted off the Noto Peninsula and was followed by at least 59 smaller aftershocks, at least nine of which had a magnitude of more than five. By Tuesday morning the death toll had reached 48 people as the search for survivors continued, the BBC reported.

There were dozens of reports of buildings collapsing in the city of Wajima in Ishikawa Prefecture, the earthquake’s epicenter. Meanwhile, the agency also issued tsunami warnings or advisories to almost all of its western coast, urging people to move to higher grounds or designated evacuation buildings.

It warned that more earthquakes with intensity nearing 7.0-magnitude could hit already seriously affected areas in the coming days.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida ordered authorities to prioritize human life and spare no effort in the emergency disaster response.

The tremors have sparked fears of a potentially devastating tsunami in Japan, where a 2011 quake off the northeastern coast sent gargantuan waves, some reaching 130 feet in height, crashing into coastal towns and killing at least 18,000 people.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake was the third-largest ever recorded in the world since 1900.

The 2011 earthquake also led to one of the worst nuclear disasters in history: A surge of seawater flooded electricity generators at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, with its three reactors, resulting in explosions that released radioactive material.

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