An emergency earthquake alert for Ishikawa Prefecture area is shown on a TV on Monday
An emergency earthquake alert for Ishikawa Prefecture area is shown on a TV on MondayPhoto | AP

Earthquakes shake Japanese region, collapse two homes

A magnitude 5.9 temblor on the northern top of the Noto Peninsula was followed minutes later by a 4.8 and then several smaller quakes within the next two hours.

TOKYO: Earthquakes struck Japan's north-central region of Ishikawa, still recovering from the destruction left by a powerful quake on January 1, but the latest shaking caused only minor damage.

A magnitude 5.9 temblor on the northern top of the Noto Peninsula was followed minutes later by a 4.8 and then several smaller quakes within the next two hours, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. There was no danger of a tsunami.

Two houses that had been damaged in the January 1 quake collapsed in Wajiima city, but no injuries or other damage was reported so far, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

JMA seismology and tsunami official Satoshi Harada said Monday's quakes were believed to be aftershocks of the magnitude 7.6 earthquake on January 1.

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Seismic activity has since slightly subsided, but Harada urged people to be cautious, especially near buildings that were damaged earlier.

Shinkansen super-express trains and other train services were temporarily suspended for safety checks but most of them resumed, according to West Japan Railway Co.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority said no abnormalities were found at two nearby nuclear power plants. One of them, the Shika plant on the Noto Peninsula, had minor damage, though officials said that did not affect cooling functions of the two reactors.

Hokuriku Electric Power Co. said there were no power outages.

Monday's rattlings rekindled fear among residents who are still struggling to recover from damages from the New Year's quake. NHK public television showed a number of people who came out of their homes and temporary shelters to see if there were additional damage.

“Many people who have been living at evacuation centers must have been been frightened,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said, urging caution against potential falling rocks and landslides in areas that were shaken strongly.

Reconstruction comes slowly in mountainous areas on the peninsula, and many damaged houses remain untouched.

In Wajima, which was one of the hardest-hit areas, an inn operator told NHK that he immediately ducked under the desk at the reception when the first quake struck Monday. Nothing fell to the floor or broke, but it reminded him of the January shakings and made him worry that a big quake like that had occurred even five months later.

The January 1 quake killed 260 people, including those who later died due to stress, illnesses and other causes linked to the quake, with three others still missing, according to the FDMA.

Damages still remain, and more than 3,300 residents remain evacuated.

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