Monday, March 21, 2005

Japan Quake Triggers Tsunami Warning!

A strong earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale rocked the southern Japanese island of Kyushu Sunday, triggering Tsunami Warnings, but there were no immediate reports of deaths, officials said. Japan Broadcasting Corp. reported at least 155 people sustained mostly slight injuries in the quake which occurred at 10:53 am (0153 GMT), damaging houses and roads, and disrupting land and air traffic. The government's Meteorological Agency lifted the tsunami warnings one hour later after detecting no significant rise in the tide. Police have confirmed seven injuries caused by splinters from window panes and other falling objects. The quake's epicentre was located in waters off Fukuoka, a major city on the north coast of the island, the agency said. Its focus was nine kilometres (six miles) below surface. Some 10 people were injured on the islet of Genkai at the mouth of Fukuoka Bay as landslides crushed a dozen of houses, an official said. "Some of the injured and several elderly people are being ferried to the city for treatment and evacuation," Chizumi Nakamura, secretary of the Genkai community centre, told AFP by telephone. About 100 islanders were sheltered at the centre as minor aftershocks continued, she said, adding no one was buried in the landslides. "There was an awful jolt and it rolled for a while, dragging down the chest of drawers and the cupboard in the kitchen at my house," she said. A spokesman for the Fukuoka prefectural police headquarters said three hours after the quake that police had confirmed that seven people were injured, city gas leaked from five spots, four roads and 10 houses were damaged. There was also a landslide. He said a crack, two centimetres (0.8-inch) wide and 100 meters (yards) long, was found on a road near Fukuoka Dome, a seaside baseball park. The surface of the road also swelled 30 centimetres (12 inches) at one point. "One woman was injured when an object fell from the top of the chest of drawers and a man broke his bone after jumping off from the second floor of his house in panic," a Fukuoka municipal government official said. The tremor was also felt in the south of the Korean peninsula. Residents were forced to evacuate buildings in Busan, a key port city some 450 kilometres (280 miles) south of Seoul, the South Korean Yonhap news agency said. There were no reports of injuries or damage. In Japan, train operations and airplane flights were temporarily suspended for inspections of tracks and runways.