Greater Tokyo Quake Alarm Leaves Residents Stirred, Not Shaken

(Bloomberg) -- An earthquake in Greater Tokyo was felt by few, but heard by many.

Millions of mobile phones jolted residents at 12:15 a.m. Thursday with a shrieking alarm intended to warn them of an imminent temblor.

No injuries or damage were reported after the 4.6 magnitude quake, triggering lively discussions on social media over whether the disturbance was warranted. Japan had 40 quakes last year that measured more than 4 on Japan’s shaking intensity scale, most without effect.

The National Early Warning System was introduced 11 years ago to use mobile phones and loudspeakers mounted on utility poles to warn of earthquakes, tsunamis, and missile launches. Over the years, the system has issued alerts late, after shaking begins, or in err, including a January announcement of an imminent missile launch from North Korea.

But in a country that’s been hit by floods, typhoons, and earthquakes all within the past few months, others said they appreciated the warning. A magnitude-6.7 earthquake hit Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido on Sept. 6 at 3 a.m., resulting in at least 41 deaths and cutting off power across the prefecture.

From Twitter on Thursday:

"I’m sleep-deprived because of last night’s quake alert." -- @87me_chan

"It didn’t shake at all. The siren was scarier than the quake itself." --@yotako1192

"I held my breath thinking a big one has finally come. We ought to always be prepared for the worst." --@kennoguchi0821

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