OSAKA — Water supplies remained suspended for some 38,000 households in Hiroshima Prefecture on Sunday, one day after a powerful earthquake that left two people dead and 161 injured.
The quake, which hit a wide area of western Japan at 3:28 p.m. Saturday, partially damaged or destroyed more than 3,700 buildings, with most damage centering on Hiroshima and Ehime prefectures, local authorities said.
The temblor, which registered a lower-6 on the 7-point Japanese intensity scale in Hiroshima Prefecture, also caused extensive power outages, disrupted train services and forced highway authorities to temporarily close some roads in the Chugoku and Shikoku regions.
The Sanyo Shinkansen Line resumed operations at 8:36 a.m. Sunday after a 17-hour suspension, West Japan Railway Co. (JR West) said. Train runs on a stretch of track between Okayama Station in Okayama Prefecture and Kokura Station in Fukuoka Prefecture had been suspended after the quake bent train rails and damaged poles carrying overhead wires.
The Matsuyama municipal government in Ehime Prefecture ordered 14 people in four households in the city to evacuate their homes by 6 a.m. citing the danger of a landslide. The evacuation brings the number of people forced to flee their homes in Hiroshima, Ehime and Yamaguchi prefectures to 49 as of 9 a.m.
Local governments in affected areas said Sunday morning they were still making efforts to deal with the water supply suspension that followed the earthquake. Hiroshima prefectural government officials say some 34,000 households in the prefecture have lost their water supply, including 21,000 in Kure.
The quake forced some 3,550 passengers to spend the night in trains at 11 stations on the Sanyo Shinkansen Line or on conventional train lines, JR West officials said.
The quake measured a 6.9 on the Moment Magnitude scale, which is gaining popularity worldwide, Meteorological Agency officials said. The figure suggests Saturday’s quake was as strong as the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake centering on Kobe, which killed more than 6,400 people, they said.
The focus of the quake is estimated to have been 51 km below the seabed south of Hiroshima in the Seto Inland Sea, they said.
In the city of Hojo in Ehime Prefecture, Kyoko Takeuchi, a 50-year-old housewife, was killed by a falling chunk of concrete on the balcony of an apartment. Hojo is a coastal city several kilometers from the focus.
Tomoe Yamasaki, 80, was killed in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, when a concrete barrier collapsed. About 20 people were injured when part of a gymnasium wall fell in at Shimizugaoka Senior High School in Kure, police said.
In Yamaguchi Prefecture, an oil duct at a petroleum company plant on the Seto Inland Sea coast of Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, was damaged, and an oil similar to fuel oil has leaked into the sea, the Japan Coast Guard said. Iwakuni is about 40 km west of the focus.
A lower-6 quake on the Japanese scale is strong enough to make it hard for a person to remain standing and can topple concrete walls and break windows.
A powerful earthquake occurs roughly every 50 years in the area. Eleven people were killed in a 1905 quake in Hiroshima Prefecture, and a 6.2-magnitude quake in 1949 claimed two lives in Kure, they said.
Katsuyuki Abe, professor at the Earthquake Research Institute of the University of Tokyo, said that the depth of the quake’s focus indicates that it occurred at a point where the Philippine Sea plate is sliding underneath the Eurasian plate, on which western Japan sits.
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