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7.3 quake hits off coast of northeast Japan

Officials issued a tsunami warning after a strong earthquake jolted northeastern Japan.

A preliminary magnitude earthquake of 7.3, struck in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Miyagi prefecture at 5:18 p.m. Friday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. The epicenter was 6.2 miles beneath the seabed.

The quake could be felt hundreds of miles away. Buildings in Tokyo, nearly 300 miles to the southwest, swayed for several minutes.

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U.S. Army Japan was monitoring the situation in Miyagi prefecture, where 800 U.S. soldiers were working with their Japanese counterparts for the annual Yama Sakura exercise. Last year’s earthquake, which sparked a massive tsunami and a nuclear disaster, occurred in the same general area but was much larger.

“It was a good shake, but there are no reports of injury or damage,” Army spokesman Maj. Randall Baucom told Stars and Stripes from Japan’s Camp Sendai, about a half-hour after the earthquake struck. “But we’re still in the assessment stage.”

The warning said the tsunami could be as high as six feet.

“We’re prepared to respond if asked,” Baucom said.

Most of the tactical equipment the Army could provide for search-and-rescue missions is still at USARJ headquarters at Camp Zama, roughly 250 miles south of Sendai.

“It’s nothing we couldn’t turn around and get up here in a big hurry,” Baucom said

From staff reports

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