September 19, 2013 3:31 pm

5.3-magnitude earthquake hits near Fukushima nuclear power plant

The earthquake hit Friday morning at about 2:25 a.m. local time, centred 20 kilometres west of the city of Iwaki in Fukushima prefecture.

U.S. Geological Survey

VANCOUVER – A 5.3-magnitude earthquake has struck in the same region as Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The earthquake hit Friday morning at about 2:25 a.m. local time, centred 20 kilometres west of the city of Iwaki in Fukushima prefecture.

The town is just 50 kilometres south of the area where four reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant were destroyed in the 2011 tsunami, triggering the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

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The U.S Geological Survey recorded the depth of the quake at 22.2 kilometres below the Earth’s surface.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre did not issue an alert.

There were no immediate reports of damage, but the quake was reportedly felt in 17 prefectures including Tokyo, 255 kilometres away.

On Thursday, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tried to allay fears about radiation-contaminated water leaking from the plant, saying the water had been contained.

READ MORE: Japanese leader’s promise to IOC that Fukushima leaks ‘under control’ sparks criticism at home

Officials have acknowledged that groundwater contaminated with radioactive leaks has been seeping into the Pacific since soon after the meltdowns and explosions crippled the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Abe also said he ordered the plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., to decommission two reactors at the plant.

The meltdown at the Fukushima plant led to the evacuation of 160,000 people.

*With files from The Associated Press

© Shaw Media, 2013

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