Sun, Apr 14, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Strong quake hits near Kobe, Japan

NO DEATHS REPORTED:The quake struck near the city that was devastated in 1995, but this time the damage was limited. No Taiwanese were injured

AFP, TOKYO

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit western Japan early yesterday, injuring at least 24 people and destroying some houses, officials and reports said.

Japan’s meteorological agency, which earlier reported the quake was measured at magnitude 6.0, revised the seismic reading to magnitude 6.3. There was no risk of a tsunami, it said.

The quake struck at 5:33am near Awaji Island in the Seto Inland Sea southwest of the city of Kobe, the agency said, also revising the depth of the focus at 15km.

The US Geological Survey also measured the tremor at 6.0, but at an even shallower depth of 5km.

It was the biggest earthquake to hit western Hyogo Prefecture since 1995, when a magnitude 7.2 quake destroyed its port city of Kobe and killed more than 6,000 people.

However, the damage yesterday was limited, the National Police Agency said, although at least 24 people were injured.

An 82-year-old woman in Fukui Prefecture suffered a broken leg after she fell to the ground, while another woman, 74, in Hyogo Prefecture broke her hip bone, a police agency official said.

Public broadcaster NHK showed footage of flattened brick walls and one house where all the roof tiles had collapsed to the ground.

Local train services were suspended for safety checks, while Kansai airport in Osaka Bay was temporarily closed, NHK said.

No Taiwanese were injured in the quake, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) said.

Kansai Electric Power said there was nothing untoward at its Oi nuclear power plant, currently the only one in Japan with reactors online.

“Our operation has continued as we haven’t monitored any abnormality, but we are still checking if there is any damage to the facilities,” a plant official said.

Japan is regularly hit by powerful earthquakes and has largely adapted its infrastructure to tremors that can cause widespread damage in other countries.

However, in January 1995, a huge magnitude 7.2 quake hit the western port city of Kobe, burying residents in flattened buildings and uprooting highway overpasses and train tracks while fires raged through collapsed timber houses.

Hikaru Doi, a 36-year-old employee of a taxi company on Awaji Island, told Jiji Press: “I was scared to death. I thought a big quake hit again.”

Japan turned off its 50 nuclear reactors in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, but the two at the Oi plant resumed operations due to fears of a power shortage.

Additional reporting by CNA, with staff writer

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