Strong Aftershock Jolts Japan on One Month Anniversary of Tsunami, Earthquake Disaster

BY Tom LeGro  April 11, 2011 at 9:05 AM EST

Japan one month anniversary; photo by Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

One month after the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, 2-year-old Ayaka and family members pray for her missing grandmother and great-grandmother at a vacant lot where they lived in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture. Photo by Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images.

As Japan somberly marked the one month anniversary of the massive earthquake and tsunami that killed tens of thousands of people and set off a radiation crisis at a nuclear plant, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake shook the country once more.

Japanese officials said the quake had a magnitude of 7.0, but the U.S. Geological Survey said it measured 6.6.

Japanese officials said Monday’s aftershock did not endanger operations at the tsunami-flooded Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, where power was cut by the aftershock but quickly restored, the Associated Press reported. The epicenter was just inland and about 100 miles north of Tokyo.

There were no immediate reports of more damage or injuries.

Meantime, the evacuation zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex has been expanded. Residents of five more communities, some more than 20 miles from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in the northeast, were urged to evacuate within a month because of high levels of radiation, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters. The 70,000 to 80,000 people living in a 12-mile radius around the plant already have been evacuated.

In local elections over the weekend, Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s ruling party suffered big losses, further weakening his power and lifting rivals. Kan’s ruling Democratic Party of Japan lost 69 seats in a Sunday vote for prefectural assemblies and three gubernatorial elections where it had backed candidates.

The earthquake and tsunami of March 11 killed up to 25,000 people and is costing as much as $310 billion in damage, according to the Japanese government’s estimates. About 250,000 are without electricity (some of them because of the latest two aftershocks). Bodies of thousands of tsunami victims have yet to be found and more than 150,000 people are living in shelters.

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