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Powerful earthquake shakes Japan

Published 30/05/2015

Buildings shook across Japan as an earthquake struck deep underground
Buildings shook across Japan as an earthquake struck deep underground

A powerful earthquake has struck near remote Japanese islands shaking most of the country.

But magnitude-8.5 quake 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 quake struck off the Ogasawara islands at a depth of 370 miles, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

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 area, just north of the capital, were without power, according to the Tokyo Electric Power Co.

At Tokyo's Roppongi Hills shopping and business complex, lifts 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.

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."

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.

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 offshore earthquakes usually do not cause tsunamis and generally cause less damage than shallow ones.

In March 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake rocked north-east Japan, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 18,500 people and ravaged much of the northern Pacific coast.

The depth of that quake was just 24 kilometres (15 miles), according to the meteorological agency.

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