Published: Mon, June 18, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

2 feared dead after natural disaster hits Osaka in western Japan

2 feared dead after natural disaster hits Osaka in western Japan

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government was assessing damage and that its top priority was the safety of residents, NHK said.

A water-filled crack on a road after water pipes were broken due to an natural disaster is seen in Takatsuki, Osaka prefecture, western Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo June 18, 2018.

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga says there were no reports of major damage as of 8:30 a.m.

Singaporean Benny Tong, who is in Osaka to visit his fiancee and her family, said he felt "intense rattling" for about 20 seconds before the quake.

Pictures circulating on social media showed electronic train announcement boards that had collapsed onto the platform at one local station, and broken glass at a ticket counter. The quake also grounded flights in and out of Osaka, and paralyzed traffic and commuter trains most of the day.

A number of train services were suspended, including the "shinkansen" bullet train.

Kansai Electric Power said no irregularities had been detected at the Mihama, Takahama and Ohi nuclear plants after the quake. It rated the quake at "6 Lower" on its JMA Seismic Intensity scale, meaning the shaking would have been severe enough to make it hard to remain standing. The strongest shaking was in an area north of Osaka city, the agency said.

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Due to damage to underground gas lines, 110,000 homes in Takatsuki and Ibaraki cities were without gas, and repairs are expected to take as long as two weeks, according to Osaka Gas Co. Passengers exited trains on the tracks between stations. It said it would resume operations at the Osaka plant on Monday evening.

Honda Motor Co said production in Suzuka, was halted for checks but no problems were found and operations were back to normal.

The magnitude-6.1earthquake, initially measured at 5.9, struck the region, 400 kilometres west of Tokyo, during the morning commute. At least 234 people were injured, public broadcaster NHK said.

Department store operators in the prefecture decided not to open as scheduled or to close early. Roofs and roof tiles at homes and at least one temple fell to the ground in Osaka.

The quake, which was recorded at a depth of 13km, left more than 170,000 households without power in Osaka prefecture and neighbouring Hyogo prefecture, where an natural disaster killed more than 6,400 people in the city of Kobe in January 1995.

Both Japan and Guatemala are situated on the Ring of Fire, an area of intense seismic and volcanic activity on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

While the quake appeared to spare the region of major infrastructural damage, the Meteorological Agency warned that strong aftershocks could occur, particularly in the next two to three days.

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