At least three people, including a child, were killed after a strong earthquake rocked the Japanese city of Osaka during the morning rush hour, government officials said.
The 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck just before 8:00am (23:00 GMT) on Monday, knocking over walls and injuring at least 230 people.
“We are doing our best to respond to this disaster urgently as some areas still cannot access gas or water. As of now, there is no damage at nuclear power facilities such as Takahama nuclear power plant and Oi nuclear power plant,” Yoshide Suga, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, told a news conference.
Local police said the child who was killed was a nine-year-old girl who lived in the city of Takatsuki, north of Osaka, where a wall collapsed on her at school.
National broadcast NHK said an elderly man was also killed by a collapsing wall, while another was trapped below a bookcase at home.
|Water flows out from cracks in a road damaged by an earthquake in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture [Kyodo/Reuters]|
Multiple small aftershocks followed the quake, prompting warnings from an official of Japan’s meteorological agency to remain on guard.
“There are fears that the risk of house collapses and landslides has increased in the areas shaken strongly,” said Toshiyuki Matsumori, in charge of monitoring quakes at the agency.
Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said it had detected no problems at its local nuclear power plants. The quake did not trigger tsunami warnings.
Strong vertical jolt
Despite its relatively low magnitude, the quake left many residents shaken and fearing the worst.
“The floor moved violently. It was a strong vertical jolt. Nearly all of the dishes fell and shattered on the floor,” Kaori Iwakiri, a 50-year-old nurse in Moriguchi – just north of Osaka city – said.
“My parents suffered a blackout and they have no water. I plan to take water to them now.” Iwakiri said.
Eiji Shibuya, 52, said the tremor reminded him of the devastating 1995 Kobe earthquake, which killed nearly 6,500 people.
“I was stunned. I couldn’t do anything,” he told AFP news agency from Itami, a city in eastern Osaka region.
“I was worried about my son as he had just left for his high school. I was relieved when I confirmed he was safe.”
Japan sits on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire” where a large proportion of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded.
On March 11, 2011, a devastating magnitude 9.0 quake struck under the Pacific Ocean, and the resulting tsunami caused widespread damage and claimed thousands of lives.
It also sent three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing Japan’s worst post-war disaster and the most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.