Five people were killed, over 500 people were injured in a
magnitude 6.8 earthquake which rocked Niigata prefecture of central
western Japan and surrounding areas on Monday morning.
The death toll rose to five after a couple in their 70s died in
a hospital in Niigata. Three women in their 70s and 80s died
earlier in the day due to the 10:13 AM (01:13 GMT) quake. All were
from the most heavily hit city of Kashiwazaki in Niigata.
According to Kyodo News, over 500 injured people were sent to
hospitals as to 16:30 PM (07:30 GMT).
The Chinese embassy in Japan said there has been no report of
casualties of Chinese people in Japan.
An aftershock measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale jolted the area
again on 15:37 PM (06:37 GMT), following over a dozen minor
tremors, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. It also warned that
more strong aftershocks are expected within the week.
The weather service issued a tsunami warning immediately after
the quake and relieved it about an hour later. Over a dozen
aftershocks were registered since 10:34 AM (01:34 GMT) in Niigata,
with magnitudes around 3 on the Richter scale.
At least 300 houses collapsed due to the strong quake. Over 10
cases of gas leakages were reported, resulting in gas cut in around
35,000 households in Niigata and Nagano prefectures.
A two-car local train in Kashiwazaki derailed due to the strong
quake. No casualties were reported as to the case. Monday is a
national holiday of Japan.
The epicenter of the major quake was around 17 kilometers below
seabed in waters off Niigata prefecture, the agency said. The
agency revised the major quake from 6.6 to 6.8 magnitude at
An electric transformer caught fire at the No. 3 reactor of
Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant. The
fire was brought under control around noon, local reports said.
Other three reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant
automatically shut down. No radioactive leakage has been detected
The quake also caused power failures in over 18,000 households
in Niigata. East Japan Railway Co. said it halted bullet train
services on the Tohoku, Joetsu and Nagano Shinkansen lines as well
as other train services. It said the Tohoku and Nagano Shinkansen
lines later resumed operations.
Several parts of highway in Niigata were also closed after the
quake. Niigata airport shut down its runways immediately after the
quake to check for damage, airport officials said.
The government has set up an emergency management center to
handle the quake. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who rushed back to
Tokyo from southern Japan, is flying to Niigata in a
The quake measured upper 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity
scale of 7 in Kashiwazaki and Kariwa in Niigata and Iizuna in
Nagano, lower 6 in Joetsu and Nagaoka in Niigata, and upper 5 in
Iiyama in Nagano. The earthquake also affected nearby prefectures
including Ishikawa, Yamagata, Tochigi, Saitama, Fukushima and
In October 2004, a major earthquake hit Niigata prefecture,
killing 67 people and injuring over 4,800.
(Xinhua News Agency July 17, 2007)