Mon, Mar 21, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Large earthquake hits southern Japan; 1 dead

7.0 MAGNITUDE The temblor, which was centered in waters off Fukuoka, caused many houses to collapse and several landslides, and left at least 400 people injured

AFP , TOKYO

An earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale rocked the southern Japanese island of Kyushu yesterday, killing at least one person and injuring 400 others, officials and press reports said.

The quake, which occurred at 10:53am, also collapsed houses and roads, caused landslides and disrupted land and air traffic.

The government's Meteorological Agency immediately issued tsunami warnings but lifted them one hour later after detecting no significant rise in the tide.

The Kyodo news agency reported about 400 people received treatment at hospitals for injuries. Police confirmed 64 injuries, six of them serious, caused by splinters from shattered window panes and falling objects.

Glass splinters cascaded down from an office building in a business district in Fukuoka, sending passersby rushing away in panic, according to television footage on the Japan Broadcasting Corp.

A 75 year-old woman died after she was crushed by a falling block wall in Fukuoka, a city official said.

"She suffered internal bleeding and a fractured pelvis," the official said by telephone.

Some 10 people were injured on the islet of Genkai at the mouth of Fukuoka Bay as landslides and heavy jolts crushed more than 20 houses, a local official said.

"There was an awful jolt and it rolled for a while, dragging down the chest of drawers and the cupboard in the kitchen at my house," Chizumi Nakamura, secretary of the Genkai community center, said by telephone.

"Children, elderly people and women among the 750 islanders are being evacuated to the city as aftershocks continued," she said, adding no one was reported buried in the landslides.

The epicenter was located in waters off Fukuoka, a major city on the island's northern coast, the meteorological agency said. Its focus was 9km below surface.

Akikichi Matsuzaki, a 50-year-old fisherman on Genkai who was aboard his boat when the quake struck, told Jiji Press, "I heard an enormous bang from the seabed. We felt a shock as if the boat's bottom bumped a big thing."

"The boat swayed greatly. I don't know what happened at all."

A spokesman for the Fukuoka prefectural police headquarters said five hours after the quake that police confirmed 64 injuries, five gas leaks, and damage to four roads and 138 houses. There were also three landslides.

He said a crack, 2cm wide and 100m long, was found on a road near Fukuoka Dome, a seaside baseball park. The surface of the road also buckled out 30cm at one point.

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