Powerful earthquake strikes Japan

KUMAMOTO, Japan, April 14 (UPI) — A powerful preliminary 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck southern Japan’s Kumamoto prefecture on Kyushu Island on Thursday, the first high-intensity quake since the Great East Japan Earthquake five years ago, the Meteorological Agency said.

The earthquake Kumamoto struck at 9:26 p.m. local time. A major aftershock struck the same region at 10:07 p.m., logging an intensity of lower 6 on the Japanese scale, the Japanese weather agency said. Weaker aftershocks followed and no tsunami warnings were issued.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the damage was still being assessed but several homes collapsed. Nearby nuclear facilities were not affected, Suga said.

The earthquake occurred at a depth of 6.2 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The quake’s epicenter was 4.3 miles southwest of Ueki and 385 miles south-southeast of Seoul, South Korea.

A woman was trapped under rubble in Mashiki, where the quake measured the strongest level on the Japanese scale of 7.

According to the National Police Agency, five people were trapped under collapsed homes in the town. More than 10 houses were destroyed, police said.

JR Kyushu suspended all operations on the Kyushu Shinkansen Line after the quake.

Kyushu Electric Power Co. reported no abnormalities in its Sendai nuclear plant in the Kagoshima Prefecture.

Shikoku Electric Power Co. said its Ikata nuclear plant, which has been idled, sustained no damage from the latest quake.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake shook northeastern Japan, unleashing a tsunami.

Four years after the quake, about 230,000 people who lost their homes were still living in temporary housing, Japan’s Reconstruction Agency said. More than 16,000 people were killed and 2,500 remain missing. The total damage from the earthquake and tsunami are estimated at $300 billion, according to the Japanese government.

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