Strong Quake in Japan; Tidal Waves Feared

September 26, 2003

An earthquake measuring in excess of 8 on the Richter scale struck the Northern Japanese Island of Hokkaido early this morning, local time, causing property damage and injuring more than 230 people.

The tremor and two smaller aftershocks were centered around 60 miles (100 kms) off the island’s east coast, triggering an alert by authorities to avoid low lying coastal areas due to the danger of tsunamis. Waves up to 4 feet (1.3 meters) were reported.

Most of the injuries and damage has been fairly minor. According to a BBC bulletin one man was killed when he was struck by a car while cleaning up debris, but only two people have been reported to have suffered serious injuries. The quake derailed a local train, injuring one passenger, and caused a fire at an oil depot. Most of the injuries were caused by falling furniture.

The quake is the strongest reported this year, but fortunately its epicenter was far enough away from populated areas that it caused no major damage.

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