Japan earthquake: Australians describe ‘violent’ moment 7.6 magnitude tremor hits

Australians in Japan have described the “violent” moment they were hit by major 7.6 magnitude New Year’s Day earthquake that rocked Japan’s western coastline.

Local news reports at least 13 people have died in the series of significant quakes that rocked the coast of Ishikawa Prefecture on Japan’s Honshu island.

Speaking to Today, Australian tourist Matt Clayworth was in Myoko on a ski trip with his daughter and two of her friends when the earthquake hit.

“We were all in a little bit of shock and disbelief. It was quite violent as well,” he said.

Mr Clayworth said he ran outside in freezing cold temperatures after feeling the shock.

“We were on the fifth level of our hotel and then we all sort of got our wits about us and ran to the exit.

“It was -2C when we ran outside. Some of us wearing thongs and not very much!”

Myoko Mountain Lodge owners Michael and Tanami, who moved from Tasmania to Japan in 2015 to open the year-long lodge, reported feeling a series of tremors as a result of the aftershocks.

“A somewhat big earthquake came through Myoko and the whole of the Japan Sea has been affected with rising waters, as we are just 40km, (it) was pretty scary, with stuff flying around the lodge and falling off shelves,” they shared on social media at 4pm on Monday.

In another update shared two hours later, they wrote: “I have to say it was pretty scary as I was holding up the drinks fridge and hoping all the lovely wines that we have stocked up with for the winter did not come crashing down around us and the ceiling was going to hold up along with other parts of the building.”

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said it was now a “race against time” to rescue survivors, with nearly 100,000 residents ordered to evacuate.

While waves of up to a metre high tore through the northeast areas of Ishikawa, there were fears the area could be hit with tsunami waves of up to 5m.

“Very extensive damage has been confirmed, including numerous casualties, building collapses and fires,” he said.

Initially, the Japan Meteorological Agency issued a major tsunami warning for the western coastline; however, this was downgraded by Tuesday.

As of noon local time, the national weather authority advised that there was no longer a threat of tsunami damage however asked people to keep away from coasts and rivers in affected areas.

“Sea level changes will continue for a while. If you are in an affected area, keep away from coasts and rivers,” it said.

“Currently, there is no threat of tsunami.”

Smart Traveller has issued no extraordinary travel warnings for Japan however has warned Australian travellers to be wary of changing circumstances.

“If you’re in an affected area, be prepared for further aftershocks, take all tsunami warnings seriously, monitor the media and follow the advice of local authorities,” the website warned.

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