Tsunami waves more than a meter high hit central Japan after a powerful earthquake damaged homes, sparked a large fire, and prompted authorities to urge people to flee to higher ground. Thousands of Japanese evacuated urgently.
Local authorities said 30 people were killed and 14 seriously injured after the 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck Ishikawa Prefecture on the Sea of Japan side of the main island of Honshu at 07:10 GMT, according to the US Geological Survey. United States (USGS).
Japanese authorities put the quake at a magnitude of 7.6 and said it was one of more than 50 quakes of magnitude 3.2 or greater that shook the region on the New Year holiday - when families gather and visit shrines - over several o'clock.
Television channels interrupted their normal operations with special programs, including Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who urged people in dangerous areas to "evacuate as soon as possible" to higher ground.
"We realize that your home and your belongings are precious to you, but your life comes first! Run to the highest place possible," a worried NHK broadcaster told viewers.
Waves at least 1.2m high hit the port of Wajima, and several smaller tsunamis were recorded elsewhere, including as far as the northern island of Hokkaido.
Initially, the Japan Meteorological Agency (YAMA) issued a "major tsunami" warning, meaning waves up to five meters high.
But no other serious incidents were reported and the IAMA later downgraded its warning to a tsunami of up to three meters.
The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center also said about four hours after the strong quake that the tsunami threat had "largely passed".
Russia also issued a danger warning for Sakhalin Island and Vladivostok in its far east. North Korea has followed suit.
YAMA warned residents of possible new earthquakes in the next week, especially in the next two or three days./BGNES