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Tokyo gets biggest jolt since 2011 with magnitude 5.9 quake

Most transport services were restored, some experienced significant delays during the morning rush hour. 
Image: Toru Hanai/Bloomberg

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck near Tokyo late Thursday, rattling parts of the capital the most since the March 2011 disaster. Few train services remained disrupted the next morning, while some injuries were reported.

The Japan Meteorological Agency, which revised the magnitude from 6.1, said Thursday’s temblor had a depth of 75 kilometers and struck the northwestern part of Chiba prefecture around 10:41 p.m. local time. While most transport services were restored, some experienced significant delays during the morning rush hour.

More than 30 people have been injured,  according to the fire and disaster management agency. Fuji Oil Co. was among companies that were disrupted from the quake, saying an oil refinery processing unit has been suspended after a fire, which has now been extinguished.

While earthquakes are frequent in Japan, temblors as strong as Thursday’s are rare in the capital. The intensity of the shaking registered as an upper 5 on Japan’s shindo scale of 7 in parts of Tokyo, as strong as those felt after the March 2011 earthquake off the country’s northeast. That quake killed 7 people in the capital among the more than 15 000 deaths it caused across Japan, and stranded millions of commuters. No tsunami warning was issued from the quake on Thursday.

Television and social media on Thursday showed water spilling onto roads from manholes and train stations left without power. Subway, overground and bullet train services were temporarily suspended, and Haneda airport briefly shut its runways for safety checks.

Government simulations predict a 70% chance of an earthquake striking directly underneath Tokyo in the next 30 years. The simulations forecast as many 23 000 deaths, depending on when the quake were to strike.

No abnormalities were reported at any nuclear facilities, the government’s top spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, said at a press briefing. No major power equipment was affected by the quake, but about 250 buildings were without briefly left power in Tokyo, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who came into power just this week, said in his first emergency briefing that he has ordered checks on the situation.

© 2021 Bloomberg

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