Aftershocks have rattled Japan a day after a powerful magnitude 6.5 earthquake left at least one person dead and damaged buildings, emergency services said, as officials assessed the damage from the quake that injured more than 20 people and shut high-speed train lines.
Japan’s Kyodo News agency reported that a 65-year-old man died when he fell from a ladder during the earthquake that hit the central Ishikawa region mid-afternoon on Friday at a depth of 12 km (7 miles).
Keep readinglist of 4 items
Approximately 55 aftershocks, some of them strong, hit on Saturday morning, the country’s disaster management agency said, as it warned that heavy rain could trigger landslides in affected areas.
At least 23 people had been injured, the agency said.
Houses and a Shinto shrine were damaged while train services were disrupted, leaving passengers stranded in stations on Friday, which was a public holiday in Japan, part of a run of days off known as “Golden Week” when many people travel for leisure or to visit family.
East Japan Railway Co said bullet trains connecting Tokyo and Kanazawa in Ishikawa prefecture were temporarily halted for safety checks but resumed normal operations with some delays.
There were no abnormalities at nuclear power plants in the area, according to the Nuclear Regulation Authority.
An official from Suzu in Ishikawa prefecture, the hardest-hit city, said two people were rescued after becoming trapped inside destroyed buildings. Some residents in the prefecture were seen clearing rubble in the rain after their wooden houses were partially destroyed.
— Kyodo News | Japan (@kyodo_english) May 6, 2023
The earthquake registered an upper six on the Japanese Shindo seismic scale, which goes up to a maximum of seven. Japan has strict construction regulations intended to ensure buildings can withstand strong earthquakes and routinely holds emergency drills to prepare for a major jolt.
A magnitude 6.9 quake struck a fishing village in the same region in 2007, injuring hundreds and damaging more than 200 buildings on the Noto peninsula — a scenic area on the Sea of Japan coast.
Though earthquakes are common in Japan — which sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity across the Pacific basin — the country remains haunted by the memory of a massive magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake off its northeast in March 2011. The quake triggered a tsunami that left about 18,500 people dead or missing.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who had returned from a tour to four African nations and Singapore, said Friday, said his government would take “measures with a sense of urgency while closely communicating with [officials] at the scene” of the latest quake.
A video broadcast by public broadcaster NHK showed a section of a hill that had crumbled and fallen on a house. It also broadcast a video taken by a staff member visiting a relative in Ishikawa prefecture that showed a room shaking for nearly half a minute, with picture frames rattling on the walls. Japan is celebrating several national holidays this week.