Japan braced for magnitude-7 aftershocks

TOKYO - Japan faces a "70 per cent" possibility of a magnitude-7 aftershock following the massive earthquake that struck its northeast coast, a government official said Sunday.

"There is a 70 per cent possibility that an aftershock with a magnitude of seven or more will occur" within the next three days, said Takashi Yokota, director of earthquake prediction and information at the Japan Meteorological Agency.

"The possibility is 50 per cent" during the three days from March 16, he added, pointing out that strong aftershocks have continued since Friday's quake and tsunami.

A magnitude 7 quake is capable of destroying buildings and triggering tsunamis.

Yokota said aftershocks have occurred in an undersea area, 500 kilometres (300 miles) long and 200 kilometres wide, off the coasts of Miyagi and Ibaraki prefectures in the northeast.