Footage of water receding from beach in Japan emerges amid tsunami warnings

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Haunting footage has begun to emerge from Japan, as parts of the country face tsunami fears following a major earthquake in nearby Taiwan.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake had a magnitude of 7.4, with its epicentre 18 kilometres south of Taiwan’s Hualien City at a depth of 34.8 km.

The Japan Meteorological Agency had given a preliminary estimate of magnitude 7.5 for Wednesday morning’s earthquake, but later upgraded that to magnitude 7.7.

As of 12.30pm AEDT, Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, and China were all officially listed as being impacted by the disaster.

Tsunami waves as high as three metres were expected immediately for remote Japanese islands in the region, including Miyakojima island.

“Tsunami is coming. Please evacuate immediately,” said an anchor on Japanese national broadcaster, NHK.

“Do not stop. Do not go back.”

However, new reports indicate Japanese authorities have since lowered the tsunami warning to a “tsunami advisory”, though concerning footage is continuing to emerge from those in impacted areas.

Social media user, Tomohiro Yuasa, who is currently at a hotel in Nago, Okinawa, has been sharing updates to X, including footage of water appearing to recede along the coast.

“The evacuation level of the hotel has been raised from the 2nd floor to the 4th floor or above,” he wrote.

Warning alarms can be heard throughout the area.

Flights have reportedly been suspended at Okinawa’s main airport and told to divert as a precautionary measure.

In Taiwan, authorities issued a tsunami warning via text message “to remind people in coastal areas to be vigilant and take strict precautions and pay attention to the dangers caused by sudden surges in waves”.

To Taiwan’s west, the Philippines also issued a tsunami warning and called for the evacuation of coastal areas.

“The people in the coastal areas of the following provinces are strongly advised to immediately evacuate to higher grounds or move farther inland,” the state seismology institute said in an advisory.

Coastal areas in the northern provinces of Batanes, Cagayan, Illocos Norte and Isabela “are expected to experience high tsunami waves” based on tsunami wave models, the state seismological agency said.

Residents have been warned the waves could “continue for hours”.

“Owners of boats in harbours, estuaries or shallow coastal water of the above-mentioned provinces should secure their boats and move away from the waterfront,” it said.

“Boats already at sea during this period should stay offshore in deep waters until further advised.”

Buildings collapse, people feared trapped

The earthquake and the aftershocks, which included a 6.5-magnitude earthquake near Hualien according to Taipei’s weather agency, have brought varying degrees of destruction across the region.

Footage emerging on social media shows half-fallen large buildings in Hualien, near the epicentre, with severe damage, while another shows a bridge violently shaking.

Other videos show numerous, large landslides, with early reports of local media suggesting people may be trapped in the debris.

Officials said the earthquake was the strongest felt on the island in decades.

“The earthquake is close to land and it’s shallow. It’s felt all over Taiwan and offshore islands,” said Wu Chien-fu, director of Taipei’s Central Weather Administration’s Seismology Center.

“It’s the strongest in 25 years since the (1999) earthquake,” he told reporters.

A 7.6-magnitude quake hit Taiwan in September 1999, killing around 2400 people in the deadliest natural disaster in the island’s history.

Wu warned that authorities are not ruling out that “there will be earthquakes with magnitude of 6.5 to 7 in three days which will be relatively close to the land”.

“The public should pay attention to relevant warnings and messages and be prepared for earthquake evacuation.”

More to come.