Sunday, 23 September, 2018

Shallow earthquake kills three in Japan, including nine-year-old girl

A shop employee clears broken bottles following an earthquake near Osaka western JapanMore A shop employee clears broken bottles following an earthquake near Osaka western JapanMore
Leonard Rios | 18 June, 2018, 17:39

A powerful quake that jolted northern Osaka Prefecture on June 18, leaving at least three dead and dozens injured, occurred near a major active fault zone, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

A strong natural disaster knocked over walls and set off scattered fires around the city of Osaka in western Japan on Monday morning.

A number of train services were suspended, including the "shinkansen" bullet train.

Local officials confirmed the death toll, which includes two men in their 80s, after the area was shaken shortly after 8am local time on Monday.

One victim was a nine-year-old girl who was knocked down by a concrete wall at her elementary school as she walked by.

The other man, 84, was killed by a falling bookshelf in his home in Ibraki.

Two men in their 80s, one from Osaka's Higashiyodogawa Ward, and another from the city of Ibaraki also perished.

The 5.3 magnitude quake shook Osaka, on Japan's main Honshu Island, around 8 a.m. Monday local time (7 p.m. Sunday ET) according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). The agency added the quake occurred at a depth of about 6 miles (10 kilometers) and no tsunami warning was issued.

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"The government has united to respond (to the disaster) under the policy to put top priority on people's lives", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said as the government set up an emergency response team.

A 30-year-old lawyer Jun Kawasaki said the quake reminded him of the Kobe quake 23 years ago, and started packing up immediately to run away.

The magnitude 6.1 quake struck the city of Osaka and the surrounding area about 8 a.m. (2300 GMT Sunday).

Live TV coverage of the immediate aftermath showed ruptured underground pipes spewing water on to the street, while firefighters were seen tackling a blaze at a home on the city's northern outskirts. Quakes of a lower-6 intensity make it hard for people to stay on their feet and can topple unsecured furniture and other items. "There are fears that the risk of house collapses and landslides has increased in the areas shaken strongly", said Toshiyuki Matsumori of the country's meteorological agency.

Local police said the girl had died in the city of Takatsuki, north of Osaka city.

Several companies have suspended production at its factories in Osaka and Kyoto, including Panasonic, Daihatsu Motor Co, the Osaka-based unit of Toyota Motor Corp, and a joint venture plant by Sharp Corp and parent company Hon Hai Precision Industry.

The quake struck an important industrial area of central Japan. More than 170,000 homes were without power as of 8:20 a.m., regional utility Kansai Electric Power Co. said. "The whole world was aggressively shaking", she said.

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