Moderate earthquake hits northern Japan

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The Independent Online

A moderate earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.4 struck near the northern coast of Japan early Monday morning, but there were no reports of damage or injuries.

The quake hit at 6:26 a.m. (2126 GMT Sunday) under the seabed of the Pacific Ocean about 50 kilometers (31 miles) off the coast of rural Miyagi Prefecture, or state, the Meteorological Agency said.

The tremor was centered at a depth of about 80 kilometers (50 miles), it said.

The agency said there was no danger of tsunami, or seismic waves caused by undersea disturbances such as earthquakes or volcanic activity.

The quake was most strongly felt in a local town of Nakayama, 310 kilometers (192 miles), north of Tokyo, but local police said no damage or injuries were reported.

A magnitude 5 earthquake can crack walls and break furniture if it occurs in a residential area, while a magnitude 6 earthquake can inflict widespread damage in a populated area.

Japan is one of the world's most earthquake-prone nations as it sits atop four tectonic plates, slabs of land that move across the earth's surface.