Western Japan hit by 6.2-magnitude earthquake

No immediate reports of injuries or damage, but television images showed severe shaking in the region

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 October, 2016, 1:42pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 October, 2016, 10:41pm

A strong 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit western Japan on Friday, severely shaking the region and reportedly causing several injuries, damaging power lines and collapsing a house.

The quake struck shortly after 2pm in Tottori prefecture at a shallow depth of 10km. There was no tsunami risk.

The US Geological Survey initially pegged the quake’s magnitude at 6.6 before downgrading it.

Public broadcaster NHK quoted local officials as saying they had received reports that a house collapsed in the town of Yurihama, while fires broke out in another part of the prefecture, without giving details.

In Kurayoshi City, the fire department reported receiving seven emergency calls for injuries. Television images showed severe shaking in the region.

It’s possible that an aftershock similar to or bigger than this scale will hit the region
Takuya Nishimura, Kyoto University

“It was a shallow quake. In the past, there were a series of powerful quakes in [this region],” said Takuya Nishimura, associate professor at Kyoto University’s Research Centre For Earthquake Prediction. “It’s possible that an aftershock similar to or bigger than this scale will hit the region.”

An aftershock at a magnitude of 5.0 struck after the initial quake, Japan’s meteorological agency said.

“We felt fairly strong jolts, which I think were the biggest in years,” Suminori Sakinada, a local government official in Tottori, said.

Bullet train services were suspended in the area, while nearly 40,000 homes were left without electricity as the quake damaged power lines, officials said. Switched-off nuclear reactors in the region were not affected, operators said.

Japan sits at the junction of four tectonic plates and experiences a number of relatively violent quakes every year, but rigid building codes and their strict enforcement mean even strong tremors often do little damage.

A massive undersea quake however that hit in March 2011 sent a tsunami barrelling into Japan’s northeast coast, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or missing, and sending three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

In April, two strong earthquakes hit southern Japan’s Kumamoto prefecture followed by more than 1,700 aftershocks, and left at least 50 dead and caused widespread damage.