TOKYO/BEIJING, Nov 22, 2014:
A strong earthquake struck a mountainous area of central Japan tonight, causing at least one building to collapse and injuring several people, according to Japanese media reports. No tsunami warning was issued.
The magnitude-6.8 earthquake struck near Nagano city at 10.08pm (9.08pm in Malaysia) at a depth of 10km, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake’s magnitude at 6.2. Since the quake occurred inland, there was no possibility of a tsunami.
One of the hardest-hit areas appeared to be Hakuba, a ski resort town west of Nagano that hosted events in the 1998 winter Olympics.
Japan’s Kyodo news agency, citing fire officials, said at least one building collapsed in Hakuba, and that several people were injured. It wasn’t clear whether the injured were at the building.
The earthquake was felt in Tokyo, about 200km southeast of Hakuba.
An apparent aftershock with a magnitude of 4.3 followed about 30 minutes later.
No damage was reported at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in nearby Niigaata prefecture.
All of Japan’s nuclear plants are offline following a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 that sent three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant into meltdown.
Fukushima is about 250km northeast of where tonight’s earthquake occurred.
National broadcaster NHK reported that a landslide blocked a road after the quake struck. NHK also said 200 homes were without power, and that Shinkansen bullet train service in the area was temporarily suspended. It also reported that several people were injured.
Meanwhile, a strong earthquake struck a lightly populated, mountainous area of western China today, killing at least one person and causing minor damage to buildings, officials and state media said.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude-5.9 quake had a depth of 14.6km. It struck in the late afternoon about 30km from the town of Kangding in Sichuan province. China’s seismological agency gave the magnitude as 6.3.
A woman in her 70s died after being struck by a falling window pane, the official Xinhua News Agency and state broadcaster CCTV said.
A duty officer at the Kangding county government, who gave his surname as Xia, said the quake lasted only a few seconds, and that there had been some reports of cracks in buildings and toppled walls.
The area is frequently struck by earthquakes, and Xia said newly constructed buildings in the town of Kangding must be able to withstand those of up to 8 in magnitude, although requirements are less strict in the surrounding rural area.
Wang Dan, a spokeswoman for the Ganzi prefecture government under Kangding county, said rescue teams had already been dispatched to the epicentre.
He said the local electricity supply hadn’t been knocked out, there were no disruptions to transport or communications, and there was no major damage to buildings in the town of Kangding.
CCTV video showed Kangding residents strolling the town’s streets, looking up at the steep surrounding hillsides and talking on their cellphones.
Kangding and the surrounding county have a population of 129,320 people, about 70% of them Tibetan.
Western China is regularly hit by earthquakes. Sichuan was struck by a magnitude-7.9 quake in May 2008 that left nearly 90,000 people dead, many of them in collapsed schools and other poorly constructed buildings.
Construction standards have been significantly tightened since then and the country’s disaster response capacity has improved with better equipment and trained rescue teams.
Just to the south of Sichuan, in Yunnan province, 589 people were killed by a quake this past August. In 1970, a magnitude-7.7 earthquake in Yunnan killed at least 15,000 people, and a magnitude-7.1 quake there killed more than 1,400 in 1974.