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Strong quake shakes Japan northern coastline

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A small tsunami wave hit Japan's northeastern coastline after a strong earthquake rocked the region a year after the country's worst post-war natural disaster.

The 20 centimetre wave and 6.8 magnitude quake, which struck on Wednesday around 210km off the northern island of Hokkaido, prompted local authorities to issue an evacuation warning for coastal residents before it hit land.

Japan's meteorological agency also confirmed that an earlier 10-centimetre wave hit land.

The waves hit two locations in Aomori prefecture, which was one of the areas in Japan's northeast devastated by last year's disaster.

The agency had initially said a tsunami could be as high as 50 centimetres, but US monitors said there was no Pacific-wide tsunami threat.

The quake struck at a relatively shallow 10km below the seabed at 6:09 pm local time (09:09GMT).

The tsunami warning - which was lifted at 10:40GMT - comes after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a monster wave on March 11 last year that killed more than 19,000 people and crippled Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant.

The tsunami swamped cooling systems at the Fukushima site and sent three reactors into meltdown, spewing radiation into the environment and sparking the world's worst atomic accident in a generation.

There were no immediate reports of damage at nuclear facilities in the area affected by Wednesday's quake.

A spokesman for Tohoku Electric Power, which operates two nuclear power plants in the country's northeast, said the facilities were unaffected.

"There was no damage to our nuclear power facilities following the earthquake," he told AFP.

"We have not monitored any change in radiation levels around the facilities following the quake."


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