Published: Mon, June 18, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

More than 210 injured in Osaka-area natural disaster

More than 210 injured in Osaka-area natural disaster

The gate of Myotoku-ji temple collapses after an quake hit Ibaraki City, Osaka, western Japan on Monday.

Three people, including a nine-year-old girl, have died and several others are feared dead after a strong natural disaster struck Osaka on Monday morning.

Disaster management minister Hachiro Okonogi said there could be people buried under a collapsed building, and that the authorities are working to confirm details and conduct search-and-rescue operations.

One victim was a 9-year-old girl knocked down by a concrete wall at her elementary school as she walked by. A second man, also in his 80s, was also confirmed dead.

The magnitude 6.1 quake struck shortly after 8am north of Osaka at a depth of about 13 kilometres (8 miles), the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Toshiyuki Matsumori, who monitors quakes for the Japanese meteorological agency, told Channel News Asia, "There are fears that the risk of house collapses and landslides has increased in the areas shaken strongly". The initial strength of the quake was measured at 5.9.

Scattered fires broke out in buildings in the heavily urbanised area, and while authorities reported no damage to railways or major roads, parts of the network had been closed as a precaution. Scattered goods were seen on shop floors.

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NHK showed footage of firefighters tackling a blaze that ripped through a home north of Osaka, and several broadcasters showed images of water gushing into the street from underground pipes.

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.

In the hours following, more than 170,000 homes remained without power in Osaka, while almost 700 Hyogo households were left in the dark, Kansai Electric Power Company told NHK.

No irregularities were detected at the Mihama, Takahama and Ohi nuclear plants to the north of Osaka, Kansai Electric Power said.

Multiple small aftershocks followed the quake, and an official from Japan's meteorological agency warned residents to remain on guard. Several rail services were suspended, including the bullet train.

The JMA also said it is unlikely that another fault zone responsible for the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake that leveled the port city of Kobe had any influence on the June 18 quake based on the distance between the two points. A magnitude 4.6 quake struck Gunma prefecture - north of Tokyo - on Sunday, while a magnitude 4.5 tremor hit Chiba - east of Tokyo - on Saturday.

Japan's northern prefectures are still recovering from the magnitude 9.0 quake and tsunami in 2011 that killed more than 18,000. "I used the stairs but I was out of breath by the time I arrived at my office on the 20th floor".

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