M8.5 Quake Rocks Ogasawara Islands, Jolting Tokyo and Wider Kanto

Kyodo, Staff Report

  • May 30, 2015

A magnitude-8.5 earthquake struck off the Ogasawara Islands south of Tokyo on Saturday evening, jolting wide parts of the Kanto region and causing moderate tremors in many parts of the archipelago, the Meteorological Agency said.

No tsunami warning was issued by the agency, and no serious injuries or major damage were immediately reported in the Ogasawara chain by local authorities.

In Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, a woman in her 70s sustained a minor injury when dishes fell on top of her head at home. In Minato Ward, Tokyo, a building elevator stopped suddenly, trapping people inside.

The quake, which measured upper-5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7, occurred at 8:24 p.m. at a depth of 590 km below the seabed west of the Ogasawara chain, the agency said. Given the depth of the epicenter, slow lateral vibrations continued for about a minute.

The Otemachi district in central Tokyo registered an intensity of 4 on the Japanese scale, and many areas in neighboring Kanagawa Prefecture were rocked more violently, according to data released by the agency. The town of Ninomiya, facing Sagami Bay, registered upper-5.

On Chichijima Island in the Ogasawara chain, communities experienced powerful jolts. NHK quoted Yoshiyuki Sasamoto, who runs a local inn, as saying things started to fall from shelves as the tremors continued.

Following the quake, the government quickly set up an emergency task force at the prime minister’s office to assess the situation.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said no damage had been reported at its Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear power stations.

But a power outage briefly affected a combined 600 households in Adachi Ward, Tokyo, and the city of Fujimino, Saitama Prefecture, Tepco reported.

Central Japan Railway Co. and East Japan Railway Co. suspended operations on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line.

In Tokyo, the Yamanote Line and other rail routes were halted for safety checks. NHK footage showed many people stranded at major hub stations, including Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro.

“The number of quakes seems to be rising these days, and I’m worried,” said a 34-year-old office worker stuck at Tokyo Station.

A college student who gave up waiting in a long line at a bus stop outside Shibuya Station said he had no choice but to spend the night at a friend’s apartment.

The Tokaido shinkansen and some other lines later resumed operation after safety was confirmed.

Haneda airport in Tokyo temporarily closed its runways for safety checks but resumed services within an hour.

(Source: JapanTimes.co.jp)

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