Earthquake kills 1, injures hundreds in Japan

23 March 2005 | 16:34 Code : 4831 Geoscience events
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One person was killed and hundreds more injured Sunday when a powerful earthquake measuring a magnitude of 7 on the Richter scale struck the Kyushu region and other parts of western Japan.
One person was killed and hundreds more injured Sunday when a powerful earthquake measuring a magnitude of 7 on the Richter scale struck the Kyushu region and other parts of western Japan. Tsunami warnings were issued in areas along the Sea of Japan coast, but were withdrawn an hour later.

The focus of the quake was located in the Genkainada sea about nine miles north of Fukuoka at a depth of about 5 1/2 miles below the seabed, the Meteorological Agency said.

The quake occurred at 10:53 a.m., registering a lower 6 on the agency's seven-grade scale of intensity in Fukuoka, Maebaru, Fukuoka Prefecture, and Miyakicho, Saga Prefecture.

On Genkaijima island, about 12 miles northwest of Fukuoka, at least 10 houses collapsed and about 200 others were damaged, the Fukuoka municipal fire department said.

Self-Defense Forces personnel carrying emergency water and food supplies as well as blankets arrived on the island in the afternoon, while a number of boats, including Japan Coast Guard vessels, reached the island to ferry the injured and about 500 of the 750-strong populace to Fukuoka.

In Fukuoka, a 75-year-old woman was killed when a wall collapsed on her, municipal officials said. Police and firefighters said at least seven people, including a 70-year-old woman who suffered a broken leg, were injured and taken to Fukuoka aboard boats or helicopters for treatment.

At least 50 houses collapsed and 15 others were damaged in Fukuoka, police and municipal officials said. Rescue officials were checking reports that a total of 86 people were treated for injuries at hospitals in the prefectural capital alone. About 1,500 residents in Fukuoka took shelter at public facilities, municipal officials said.

Sunday's earthquake follows the Oct. 23 Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Earthquake, a magnitude 6.8 temblor, which left 46 people dead, 4,000 injured and 13,000 buildings damaged or destroyed.

In Kyushu, Japan Railway and other train services, including Shinkansen operations, were suspended and expressways in the region also were closed. No passengers were injured and no derailments were reported.

On the Sanyo Shinkansen Line, eight bullet trains running between Hakata in Fukuoka and Kokura in Kitakyushu made emergency stops without hitches, railway officials said. In the Niigata temblor, an eight-car Shinkansen train was derailed, but no passengers were injured.

JR West said Sanyo Shinkansen services returned to normal shortly after 2 p.m., except for the westernmost section between Hakata and Kokura. At 3:46 p.m. - almost five hours after the quake - operations on the remaining section were also restored.

Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co. (Nishitetsu) said its Tenjin (Fukuoka)-Omuta Line and Miyajidake Line in Fukuoka Prefecture were out of service as overhead electric lines were damaged by the earthquake.


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