A powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck off the Russian-controlled Kuril Islands today, rattling shops and homes and prompting tsunami fears.
Russia said the quake’s epicentre was 130 miles south-east of Severo-Kurilsk, a town of around 2,500 people on the Kuril island of Paramushir.
Footage from the island showed furniture shaking with items strewn across the floor of shops and apartments, as people scrambled to leave buildings and shopping malls on Russia’s Pacific coast.
Officials reported no casualties but said residents of Severo-Kurilsk were taken to higher ground amid tsunami fears.
A tsunami watch was issued for Hawaii, then rescinded, while officials said there was no danger to Alaska or the west coast of North America.
Items are strewn across the floor of a kitchen (left) and a shop (right) after a powerful earthquake struck off the Russian-controlled Kuril Islands today
Products fell off the shelves at this shop after a 7.5-magnitude earthquake which prompted some people to flee to safety
The Russian emergencies ministry reported a small wave hitting the Kuril Islands, around 1.6ft high.
The ministry said local residents would remain in a safe place for now as the threat of a tsunami remained.
‘People’s safety for us is the most important thing,’ Sakhalin governor Valery Limarenko was quoted as saying.
One video showed the alarming impact in an apartment on Paramushir, one of the Kuril Islands, where items were strewn across the floor.
Electricity and internet was disrupted in Severo-Kurilsk but there were no reports of fatalities.
‘It was shaking for a while,’ said a resident of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, a city of 180,000, the regional capital of Kamchatka region.
‘At first not very strong, for a while, then a strong wave…. Everyone ran out of their offices.’
A map showing where the earthquake struck, off the coast of the Russian-controlled Kuril Islands. Some of the islands are disputed with Japan
The mirror behind these mannequins showed how fittings were shaking during the earthquake
Another resident of the island said: ‘We were on the 5th floor. The swinging went on for a long time, then the cupboards hit against the walls and the doors rattled.
‘I am used to earthquakes here, but I was scared at the last strong shocks… My grandson aged six was very scared.
‘Now he doesn’t go a step away from me at home. Yes, and the roar was very strong.’
A resident of Vilyuchinsk posted: ‘Thank God we stocked on toilet rolls because we really s*** ourselves. Water was pouring everywhere.’
Another Russian post read: ‘It started with quite weak shakes and continued with a long and severe quake.
‘There are several small cracks in the wall.’
Another reported: ‘I have a cat that has seen a lot of earthquakes and never reacted, but today he rushed around from room to room with huge eyes.’
One woman posted: ‘I got up, hugged my kids and waited for the thing to finish.’
Residents of Severo-Kurilsk (some of whom are seen in the snow outside their homes) were taken to higher ground amid tsunami fears
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said hazardous tsunami waves were possible within 600 miles of the quake’s centre.
It said earthquakes of this strength in the past have caused tsunamis far from the epicenter. A tsunami watch was issued for Hawaii but has since been cancelled.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake was a stronger 7.8 magnitude and may cause a slight change of sea levels around Japanese coasts.
There have been no reports of any casualties.
The four southernmost islands of the Kuril chain have been disputed between Moscow and Tokyo since the end of World War II.
The Kurils are known as the Northern Territories in Japan..
A 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Severo-Kurilsk on Russia’s far-east Kuril Islands