Residents on the west coast of Japan's main island have been told not to return to their homes amid risks of tsunamis following a series of earthquakes on New Year's Day.
Japan dropped its highest-level tsunami alert, issued following a series of major earthquakes on Monday, but told residents of coastal areas not to return to their homes as deadly waves could still come.
The quakes, the largest of which had a magnitude of 7.6, started a fire and collapsed buildings on the west coast of Japan’s main island, Honshu. It was unclear how many people might have been killed or hurt.
The Japan Meteorological Agency reported more than a dozen quakes in the Japan Sea off the coast of Ishikawa and nearby prefectures shortly after 4 p.m.
At least six homes were damaged by the quakes, with people trapped inside, government spokesman Yoshimasa Hayashi said. A fire broke out in Wajima city, Ishikawa Prefecture, and electricity was out for more than 30,000 households, he said.
The agency initially issued a major tsunami warning for Ishikawa and lower-level tsunami warnings or advisories for the rest of the western coast of the island of Honshu, as well as the northernmost of its main islands, Hokkaido.
The warning was downgraded to a regular tsunami several hours later, meaning the waters could still reach up to 3 meters (10 feet). Aftershocks could also slam the same area over the next few days, it said.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK TV initially warned torrents of water could reach as high as 5 meters (16.5 feet).
NHK said the tsunami waves could keep returning, and warnings were continuing to be aired hours after the initial alert. Several aftershocks also rocked the region.