Earthquake in Tohoku interrupts trains

A strong earthquake measuring 4 on the Japanese seismic scale to 7 jolted a wide area of northeastern Japan on early May 12, interrupting railway and expressway services. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The temblor, which struck at 7:59 a.m., produced intensity-4 jolts in eastern and central areas of Fukushima Prefecture, the Meteorological Agency said. Tremors measuring 3 on the Japanese scale were felt in Miyagi and Tochigi prefectures as well as in the northern part of Ibaraki Prefecture. The earthquake registered an estimated magnitude of 5.7 on the open-ended Richter scale.

Japan Railways officials said Tohoku Shinkansen Line service was interrupted for six minutes between Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, and Furukawa, Miyagi Prefecture, because of the quake. Other local JR trains on five lines, including the Tohoku and Joban lines, were also suspended temporarily in Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures to allow workers to conduct damage checks, they said.

About 1,900 households were without power for about 20 minutes as a utility pole transformer in Funahiki, Fukushima Prefecture, burned out as a result of the quake, according to power company officials. Meanwhile, in the southern Kanto region, a quake measuring 2 on the Japanese scale was felt in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, Tokyo and Yokohama at 12:13 p.m. May 12.