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Japan earthquake: 6.2 magnitude quake hits west of country

At least seven people have been injured – one seriously

Caroline Mortimer
Friday 21 October 2016 06:41 BST
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Debris fallen from the damaged wall of a building scattered on a rooftop in Kurayoshi, Tottori prefecture
Debris fallen from the damaged wall of a building scattered on a rooftop in Kurayoshi, Tottori prefecture (AP)

A powerful earthquake with a suspected magnitude of 6.6 has shaken western Japan, injuring seven people -– one seriously.

The Meteorological Agency said the earthquake occurred Friday at 2:10 p.m. (0510 GMT) in Japan's western prefecture of Tottori, about 700 kilometers (430 miles) west of Tokyo, at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles) underground.

The epicentre of the quake was at a relatively shallow depth of 11km (7 miles) below the surface. Shallow quakes potentially cause more damage but most of Friday's damage appears to be minor or localised.

The agency said there was no danger of a tsunami from the inland temblor.

At least two houses collapsed, and television footage showed roof tiles knocked loose, wall fragments from a sake brewery fallen to the ground, and wine bottles and food items scattered on a store floor. Japan's public broadcaster NHK said a woman cooking in a restaurant was taken to a hospital after she was splashed with oil.

"It shook quite violently and file cabinets fell down, but luckily nobody was injured in this office," Koji Nakahara, a town hall official in coastal Hokuei, told NHK by telephone.

Suminori Sakinada, a local government official, told Agence France Presse: "We felt fairly strong jolts, which I think were the biggest in years, but we have not seen any damage or things falling".

A handout showing where the earthquake struck in Misasa, Tottori Prefecture (EPA)

Bullet train services have been suspended in the area and nearly 40,000 homes were believed to be temporarily left without power as the quake knocked out power lines.

NHK said switched-off nuclear reactors in the region were not affected.

Cliffs collapse during New Zealand quake

Japan sits on the edge of four tectonic plates so earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are fairly commonplace but strict building regulations mean strong tremors rarely do damage to modern buildings.

But the quake comes five and a half years since a 9.0 undersea earthquake cause a tsunami, a meltdown at the Fukushima power plant and resulted in the deaths of over 18,000 people.

The then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan called the crisis the country "most difficult in the 65 years since the end of the Second World War".

Similarly a 1995 earthquake which struck Kobe in the south of the country killed over 6,000 people and made a further 200,000 homeless as many older buildings were destroyed and a freeway toppled over.

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