Large quake hits northern Japan

16 2005

Large quake hits northern Japan

Dozens hurt, power and transport systems affected

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TOKYO, Japan -- A strong earthquake struck northern Japan Tuesday, injuring at least 39 people, three of them seriously, police said.

The undersea quake triggered a small tsunami, damaged some buildings, disrupted transport and was felt as far away as Tokyo, officials reported.

The tremor at at 11:46 a.m. (10:46 p.m. Monday ET) was initially reported to have a magnitude of 6.8 by the Japanese Meteorological Agency. The U.S. Geological Survey later gauged the quake at 7.2, making it a major earthquake.

The roof of a sports center collapsed on to swimmers in a pool in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, police said.

At least 39 people were hurt -- three seriously -- in the collapse, officials said. It was reported to be the most serious damage caused by the quake.

The Associated Press news agency quoted NHK television as saying about 60 people were injured during the tremor.

Sendai city official Yoji Kimura told AP: "The shaking felt like it lasted forever. It was scary thinking when it was going to end and what was going to happen."

Also in Sendai, 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the quake's epicenter off the northeast coast of Honshu island, subway train services were shut down.

Japan Rail suspended the bullet train service out of Tokyo, where the tremor was also felt, about 350 kilometers (220 miles) from the epicenter.

Tohoku Power Co. reported that power had been knocked out to 17,000 homes in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, according to Japan's Kyodo news agency.

Operations at nuclear power plants in Miyagi and Ibaraki prefectures were automatically stopped when the quake struck.

A tsunami watch was issued immediately and later removed, Japanese officials said.


Source by Redazione

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