Two Quakes Jolt Northeastern Japan
Friday, July 25, 2003; 8:31 PM
TOKYO (Reuters) - A strong earthquake hit northeastern Japan on Saturday morning, just hours after an earlier tremblor, injuring at least 14 people,
causing landslides and halting electric power, public broadcaster NHK said.
NHK said the earthquake had an estimated magnitude of 6.2 on the Richter scale and hit with an intensity of around six on the Japanese scale of seven
in some areas of Miyagi Prefecture in northeastern Japan, about 190 miles north of Tokyo.
The quake triggered a landslide in the town of Tanancho, Miyagi Prefecture, and some people were feared buried, NHK said.
Weaker aftershocks were felt in the region and heavy rains the night before meant there was a danger of more landslides.
About 130,000 homes lost electric power and many trains in the area were halted, NHK said. One train carrying about 10 people was derailed but there
were no injuries reported.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, Japan's largest utility, said it had not received any reports of irregularities at nuclear power plants in nearby
Fukushima Prefecture as a result of the quake, Kyodo news agency reported.
Around 50 houses were damaged in the mountainous town of Nangocho in northern Miyagi Prefecture, a local official said, adding that some residents had
been evacuated to a local school.
"I felt the earthquake as I started cleaning, so I put a 'futon' quilt over my head and ran outside," one elderly woman told NHK.
The quake, which could be felt in Tokyo, followed another strong tremblor in the same area. That quake, which hit shortly after midnight, measured 5.5
on the Richter scale. There had been no reports of casualties or serious damage.
"As compared to the previous one, the tremor was weaker," said a local official in the town of Matsuyama near the epicenter. "The town has been hit
by a power outage," he added.
A meteorological agency official had said earlier that there were no links between Saturday's initial earthquake and the so-called Miyagi-oki
earthquake, which has hit the region cyclically about every 30 to 40 years and last struck in 1978, killing 28 people.
"Ties between this earthquake and the hypothetical major earthquake that could occur off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture can be ignored," Noritake
Nishide was quoted by Kyodo as saying.
Kyodo said the first earthquake had caused blackouts in some areas, stopped some trains and caused parts of highways to close.
Kyodo also said four people were injured in Miyagi.
"I felt a very strong shake... But there wasn't anything like furniture falling over," an official at Shiogama city hall in Miyagi said in an
interview with NHK.
Miyagi was hit by a powerful earthquake in late May that measured 7.0 on the Richter scale and left more than 100 people injured but caused no
That earthquake was of about the same magnitude as a devastating earthquake in the western Japanese city of Kobe eight years ago, which measured 7.2
on the Richter scale and left 6,430 dead.