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Tsunami alert after new Japan quake

Japan has been rattled by a strong aftershock and tsunami warning nearly a month after a devastating earthquake and tsunami flattened the north-eastern coast.

The Japan meteorological agency issued a tsunami warning for a wave of up to 6ft for a coastal area already torn apart by last month's tsunami, but the alert was later lifted.

Japanese officials said the new quake was a 7.4-magnitude and hit 25 miles under the water and off the coast of Miyagi prefecture. Buildings as far away as Tokyo shook for about a minute. The quake that preceded last month's tsunami was a 9.0-magnitude.

The US Geological Survey gave the magnitude as 7.1 as it struck off the eastern coast of Japan, 60 miles from Sendai and 90 miles from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant. It was about 215 miles from Tokyo.

The depth was 25 miles. Shallower quakes tend to be more destructive.

Hundreds of aftershocks have shaken the north east region devastated by the March 11 earthquake, but few have been stronger than 7.0.

In Ichinoseki, inland from Japan's eastern coast, buildings shook violently, knocking items from shelves and toppling furniture, but there was no heavy damage to the buildings themselves. Immediately after the quake, all power was cut. The city went dark, but cars drove around normally and people assembled in the streets despite the late hour.

Hundreds of aftershocks have shaken the north east region devastated by the March 11 earthquake, but few have been stronger than 7.0.

Officials at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima nuclear plant said there was no immediate sign of new problems after the latest tremor. A nuclear safety official said the workers at the plant were safe but did not know if they had been evacuated.

The meteorological agency had issued tsunami warnings and advisories for a stretch of more than 300 miles of the north-eastern coast from Aomori prefecture in the north to Ibaraki prefecture in central Japan, just north of Tokyo. Announcers on Japan's public broadcaster NHK told coastal residents to run to higher ground and away from the shore.

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