On Thursday night, northeastern Japan was rocked by a magnitude 7.1 aftershock that left millions without power but didn't cause additional widespread damage to infrastructure or to the already crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.
The quake (originally reported at a 7.4 magnitude) occurred about 205 miles from Tokyo and was the strongest aftershock to have hit Japan since the devastating March 11th quake and tsunami that left more than 25,000 dead and caused $300 billion worth of damage. According to the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK), the most recent quake killed an additional two people.
As of Friday morning, 3.2 million households in the the northern Tohoku region remained without electric power, The Wall Street Journal observed. By the afternoon, the number without power decreased to about 900,000, the Associated Press said quoting a local utility. Even though tsunami alerts were initially raised, waves weren't detected and the warnings were lowered by authorities.
At Fukushima, NHK reported on its Live English Feed (via MSNBC) yesterday that the Tokyo Electric Power Company workers stationed at the plant had taken shelter as the quake occurred. Plant officials told the Journal at a news conference that "We have confirmed that there has not been any major effect from last night's quake."
Bloomberg gives the most detailed overview of the situation at Onagawa nuclear power station, Higashidori nuclear plant, and Rokkasho nuclear fuel plant, all of which appeared not to suffer damage from the quake although some were left with disabled power lines.
In a separate report on the state of the radiation-seeping Fukushima plant, The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Obama administration has optimistically concluded that chances of a "complete meltdown" at the power station have declined, but that the station will still take a significant amount of time to stabilize.