Powerful 7.8 magnitude quake strikes off Japan
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Powerful 7.8 magnitude quake strikes off Japan

No tsunami warning issued as temblor hits; two people injured, but no fatalities reported

Japanese soccer fans react to a strong earthquake as they watch a J-League soccer match at BMW Stadium in Hiratsuka, southwest of Tokyo Saturday, May 30, 2015. (Munehide Someya/Kyodo News via AP)
Japanese soccer fans react to a strong earthquake as they watch a J-League soccer match at BMW Stadium in Hiratsuka, southwest of Tokyo Saturday, May 30, 2015. (Munehide Someya/Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO (AP) — A powerful earthquake struck near remote Japanese islands and shook most of the country Saturday evening, but it occurred well beneath the earth’s surface and did not trigger a tsunami warning. Two people suffered non-life-threatening injuries, and there were no reports of major damage.

The magnitude-8.5 offshore quake struck off the Ogasawara islands at a depth of 370 miles, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. The US Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 7.8 and a depth of 421 miles.

The temblor was powerful enough to rattle most of Japan, from the southern islands of Okinawa to Hokkaido in the north. Buildings swayed in Tokyo — about 620 miles north of the Ogasawara islands — and disrupted some train services in the city. About 400 houses in Saitama prefecture, just north of the capital, were without power, according to the Tokyo Electric Power Co.

At Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills shopping and business complex, elevators stopped soon after the earthquake struck the area, forcing hundreds of visitors to climb down the stairs. Among them were about 200 people who came to see the Star Wars exhibit on the 52nd floor.

In Saitama, a woman in her 70s sustained a minor head injury when a ceramic plate fell from a cupboard, local police said. In Kawasaki, just south of Tokyo, a 56-year-old office worker fell down when the quake caught him by surprise and suffered a rib injury, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

Yoshiyuki Sasamoto, a municipal official on Chichijima island, which is part of the Ogasawara island group, told NHK that he initially felt a mild tremor, but when he thought it was over “there was a violent shaking and I couldn’t even stand on my feet.”

At an inn on the Ogasawara island of Hahajima, furniture shook violently, although nothing fell or broke, innkeeper Michiko Orita told NHK. “It was so frightening. The entire house shook and a Buddhist altar violently swayed like I have never experienced before,” she said, adding that all her guests were safe.

 

 

The meteorological agency did not issue a tsunami warning because the quake struck so far beneath the earth’s surface. Deep earthquakes usually cause less damage at the surface than shallow ones.

 

There were no reported abnormalities at any of the region’s mothballed nuclear power plants.

A massive undersea quake that hit in March 2011 sent a tsunami barreling into Japan’s northeast coast.

As well as killing thousands of people and destroying communities, the waves also swamped the cooling systems at the Fukushima nuclear plant, sending three reactors into meltdown.

The nuclear disaster, the world’s worst since Chernobyl, displaced tens of thousands of people and rendered tracts of land uninhabitable, possibly for decades.

Saturday’s rattle was the second sizable shake Tokyo has had this week, after a much less powerful — but far shallower — quake hit close to the capital on Monday.

Japan sits at the meeting place of four tectonic plates and experiences around 20 percent of the world’s most powerful earthquakes every year.

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