April 30, 2006

Moderate quake jolts Japan, no reports of damage

TOKYO (Reuters) - A moderate earthquake with a preliminary
magnitude of 4.4 jolted central Japan on Sunday, but the
Meteorological Agency said there was no risk of a tsunami and
national media said there were no immediate reports of damage.

The Meteorological Agency said the epicenter of the tremor
-- which occurred at 1:10 p.m. (0410 GMT) -- was 10 km (6
miles) under the sea off the coast of Shizuoka prefecture,
around 120 km west of Tokyo.

In the coastal city of Atami -- a famous hot spa resort --
the earthquake measured a lower five on the seven-point
Japanese intensity scale, which measures ground motion, the
agency said.

A quake with that reading can cause hanging objects to
swing violently, windows to break and cause damage to less
earthquake-resistant house. But NHK television quoted the
Shizuoka fire department as saying there were no immediate
reports of damage.

High-speed Shinkansen bullet trains were running as usual,
although some regular trains in the area were operating at a
slower speeds, NHK said.

Kyodo news agency quoted Chubu Electric Power as saying the
earthquake had had no effect on the Hamaoka nuclear power plant
in Shizuoka.

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 above.

In October 2004, a quake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck the
Niigata region of 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.