August 15, 2005

Quake hits northern Japan, injuries reported

TOKYO (Reuters) - A strong earthquake with a preliminary
magnitude of 6.8 jolted northern Japan on Tuesday, and media
reports said some people had been injured.

Buildings also swayed in Tokyo, about 300 km (190 miles) to
the south, when the tremor struck at 11:46 a.m. (0246 GMT).

A tsunami warning was issued for the coast of Miyagi
prefecture and some buildings had been damaged, TV reports

The region is a mostly agricultural area with several large
cities and some high-tech factories.

An official in Sendai, a city with a population of about
one million, said some people were injured at an indoor
swimming pool after parts fell from the roof.

Early reports said the injured could total as many as 80
but NHK said one person had been seriously hurt and 13 others
were slightly injured.

Trains were halted, although there were no reports of
derailments, and some soon resumed service.

Tokyo's major airports resumed operations after runways
were briefly closed for checks.

There was also a report of a landslide but it was not clear
if people had been injured.

About 17,000 households were without electricity, Tohoku
Electric said.

"Things were falling off the shelf, but otherwise it seems
business as usual for the most part," said Takeshi Saito, a
flight instructor in Sendai.

The focus of the tremor was 20 km below the sea off the
coast of Miyagi, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Tohoku Electric said all three nuclear power generators at
its Onagawa plant stopped automatically after the quake and
Nippon Oil said it suspended operations at its refinery in the

Sony Corp, which has a production facility in Sendai for
recording media and batteries, said there was no impact from
the earthquake on its facilities and no staff were injured.

Fuji Photo Film Co said production at its digital camera
factory in Miyagi had been temporarily halted for checks, but
it reported no damage to equipment.

The magnitude of the earthquake was measured according to a
technique similar to the Richter scale, but adjusted for
Japan's geological characteristics.

The U.S. Geological Survey rated the tremor as magnitude
7.2, qualifying it as a major earthquake.

The same area was hit by a quake in May 2003, injuring more
than 100 people.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world's most
seismically active areas. The country accounts for about 20
percent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

In October 2004, an earthquake with the same magnitude as
Tuesday's struck the Niigata region in northern Japan, killing
40 people and injuring more than 3,000.

That was the deadliest quake since a magnitude 7.3 tremor
hit the city of Kobe in 1995, killing more than 6,400.