Residents line up for supplies one day after strong Japanese earthquake
KURE, Japan (AP) – Aftershocks rattled southwestern Japan on Monday as residents began picking up the pieces following a powerful earthquake that killed two people and damaged the region’s infrastructure.
The magnitude-6.4 temblor struck southwestern Japan on Saturday afternoon, collapsing buildings, snapping power lines and severing water mains. The quake shook windows as far away as South Korea.
The strongest of 22 aftershocks to shake the region was a magnitude-5.2 earthquake that struck at 5:41 a.m., the Meteorological Agency said.
Koji Fujimoto, a spokesman for the police in Hiroshima state, said Monday that there were some reports of small cracks on roads, but no other damage or injuries were reported after the latest quake.
Monday’s aftershock was centered about 31 miles under the seabed off the southern coast of Hiroshima state, very close to the epicenter of Saturday’s quake and the smaller aftershocks.
A magnitude-4.7 tremor Sunday night was strong enough to disrupt high-speed train service. Railway officials found no damage on tracks Monday, but bullet trains were running at a reduced speed in the affected area.
Hiroshima, 430 miles southwest of Tokyo, was the hardest hit of seven southwestern states that recorded heavy seismic activity in Saturday’s earthquake.
The quake’s toll stood at two dead and 174 injured. An 80-year-old woman died in the town of Kure when she was buried under rubble. In nearby Ehime state, a 50-year-old woman fleeing her home was killed by falling roof tiles.
A total of 5,070 buildings in southwestern Japan sustained some damage, the Home Affairs Ministry in Tokyo said. The quake littered streets with roof tiles and window shards.
About 120 people living in and around the bustling city of Hiroshima had to leave damaged homes, said Masayoshi Yatsu, a spokesman for the government’s disaster prevention office.
In Kure, a town of old-fashioned wooden houses and narrow winding streets about 12 miles south of Hiroshima, residents cleared away rubble to let cars pass and lined up outside relief centers for water and vinyl sheets to patch broken roofs. About 10,000 homes remained without water Sunday.
”I’ve never been so scared in my life,” said Kure resident Hatsue Michinaka, 84, said as she swept up debris from a collapsed wall.
Japan is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries. It straddles three tectonic plates, the huge slabs of land that cover the surface of the Earth.
Saturday’s quake was centered off the coast of Japan and relatively deep under the sea, some 40 miles below ground, which may have softened its impact.
In October, a magnitude-7.3 earthquake struck a largely rural area in Tottori state, northwest of Hiroshima. No one was killed but at least 120 people were injured and some 2,000 homes damaged.
Some 6,000 people died when an earthquake devastated the western Japan port city of Kobe in 1995.
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