Two strong off shore earthquakes have struck Asia, triggering tsunami alerts and evacuations in coastal towns.
Separate earthquakes hit off the coasts of northern Japan and Indonesia, but neither ultimately produced damaging waves and there were no reports of damage or casualties.
The most powerful tremor, with a preliminary magnitude of 7.0, hit off the coast of Hokkaido, Japan at a depth of 12 miles at 9.21am local time.
More than 10,000 people living in Ofunato, north west of Tokyo, were told to leave their homes, but when the wave arrived it was only 4 inches high.
An hour earlier north eastern Indonesia was struck by an earthquake measuring 6.6 beneath the Molucca Sea.
Residents of Ternate, nearest to the epicentre, briefly fled their homes but returned when a wave never arrived.
Benyamin Otte, said. “I ran out of the hotel with other guests and we fled to high ground.”
“I could see people on the beach, checking to see if the were any signs of a tsunami, but everything looked normal. Within a half-hour, we were heading back down.”
Geologists said the two earthquakes were unrelated.
In December 2004, a massive earthquake off Indonesia’s Sumatra island triggered a tsunami that swamped much of the Indian Ocean coastline and killed more than 230,000 people.
Japan also is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone nations.
By Ben Farmer
Last Updated: 9:36AM BST 11 Sep 2008