6.3 QUAKE STRIKES JAPAN

      A strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake hit western Japan early on Saturday, injuring at least 24 people and destroying some houses, officials and reports said. Japan’s meteorological agency, which earlier reported the quake was measured at magnitude 6.0, revised the seismic reading to magnitude 6.3. There was no risk of a tsunami, it said. The quake struck at 5:33 am (2033 GMT on Friday) near Awaji island in the Seto Inland Sea southwest of the city of Kobe, the agency said, also revising the depth of the focus at 15 kilometres (9.3 miles). The US Geological Survey also measured the tremor at 6.0 but at an even shallower depth of five kilometres. It was the biggest earthquake to hit western Hyogo prefecture since 1995, when a 7.2-magnitude quake destroyed its port city of Kobe and killed more than 6,000 people. But the damage was limited on Saturday, the National Police Agency said, although at least 24 people were injured. An 82-year-old woman in Fukui prefecture suffered a broken leg after she fell to the ground, while another woman, 74, in Hyogo prefecture broke her hip bone, a police agency official said. Japan’s public broadcaster NHK showed footage of flattened brick walls and one house where all the roof tiles had collapsed to the ground. Local train services were suspended for safety checks, while Kansai airport in Osaka Bay was temporarily closed, NHK said. Kansai Electric Power said there was nothing untoward at its Oi nuclear power plant, currently the only one in Japan with reactors online.

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