On Tuesday, January 29, a 5.3-magnitude earthquake hit the eastern coast of the Chiba prefecture at a depth of 40 km (25 mi). No tsunami alert has been issued. The Japanese authorities have classified the earthquake as a category 2 one, on a scale of 7 degrees. No casualties or major material damage have yet been reported.
Japan sits at the junction of four tectonic plates and experiences a number of relatively violent earthquakes every year. Rigid building codes and strict enforcement mean even strong tremors often do little damage. However, a massive undersea earthquake in March 2011 near Fukushima sent a tsunami barreling into Japan's northeastern coast, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or missing and sending three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
Individuals in the affected area are advised to monitor the situation, be prepared for further aftershocks, and adhere to any instructions issued by local authorities. During an earthquake, individuals are advised to protect themselves as much as possible from falling debris if indoors (e.g. under a table), to move away from windows and exterior walls, and to not attempt to leave the building unless there is an immediate danger. If outdoors, move away from any tall structures, such as buildings, utility wires, and streetlights.
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