Strong earthquake strikes near Tomakomai in northern Japan

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A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.7 has struck northern Japan, centered near the cities of Tomakomai and Sapporo, seismologists say. Only few details were immediately available.

The earthquake, which struck at about 3:08 a.m. local time on Thursday, was centered on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. It struck at a shallow depth of 40 kilometers.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) put the preliminary magnitude at 6.7, down from an initial estimate of 7.0. There was no immediate word on damage or casualties.

JMA and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there is no threat of a tsunami from Wednesday’s earthquake. However, some coastal regions could see slight sea-level changes.

Japan sits on the so-called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin which is prone to frequent and large earthquakes. Volcanic eruptions also occur frequently in the region.

In March 2011, an enormous 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northeastern Japan, generating a devastating tsunami that wiped out entire communities and killed at least 15,893 people and left more than 2,500 others missing and presumed dead.

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