A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 5.5 jolted the Tokai region early Tuesday, injuring seven people in Mie, Aichi, Gifu and Nara prefectures.
Prefectural officials said four people suffered minor injuries in Mie, one in Aichi, one in Nara and another in Gifu.
The temblor, which struck at around 1:43 a.m., registered a lower 5 on the Japanese intensity scale to 7 — strong enough to crack concrete walls — in central Aichi, the Meteorological Agency said.
The agency put the estimated magnitude of the earthquake at 5.5, instead of 5.7 as was announced initially.
Among the hardest hit communities was Hekinan in central Aichi.
The agency traced the epicenter of the quake to southern Mie Prefecture and the focus of the temblor to about 40 km below the Earth’s surface.
Naoya Mikami, an official at the agency’s earthquake and tsunami observation division, told a news conference the quake was caused by the subduction of an oceanic plate in the Philippine Sea.
“We expect aftershocks of the quake to be infrequent, as the focus of the temblor is pretty deep,” he said.
Seismologists ruled out a tsunami from the quake.
According to the agency, the area previously experienced two large-scale earthquakes. The first struck in 1899 and had a magnitude of 7. The second, the Tonankai quake in 1944, had a magnitude of 7.9 and led to the loss of about 1,000 lives. Officials closed a section of the Tomeihan expressway between Kanie in western Aichi and Yokkaichi in northern Mie as a precautionary measure, but reopened it later.
The earthquake was felt as far as Fukui Prefecture, western Shizuoka Prefecture and southeastern Hyogo Prefecture. Central Japan Railway (JR Tokai) inspected lines in Mie Prefecture, causing some delays in operations. Trains are running as usual on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line.
Meanwhile, another earthquake, registering a 4 on the Japanese scale, hit Oshima, Toshima, Niijima and Shikine in the Izu Island chain south of Tokyo at around 4:20 a.m.
The agency put the magnitude of the quake at 4.9.
There were no immediate reports of casualties, and no tsunami warnings were issued.
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