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Panic as Japan sends earthquake alert in error

There was brief panic in Japan after authorities sent an erroneous warning that a massive earthquake had hit the Tokyo area.

The Japanese Meteorological Agency sent the warning just after 5pm local time on Monday, saying a magnitude-9.1 quake had struck.

The announcement, which was cancelled within seconds, set off alarmed chatter on Twitter.

The agency said it is investigating why the report got sent.

A n agency official said the reason may have been lightning hitting a seismograph, an instrument that monitors quakes.

Japan is among the most quake-prone nations in the world.

A magnitude-9 quake off the north-east coast in March 2011 set off a giant tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people and sent three nuclear reactors into meltdown.

AP

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