• Kyodo


Electricity was back online and most transportation routes reopened Sunday in Miyagi following three strong earthquakes that hit the prefecture Saturday.

Residents, however, appeared exhausted as they remained wary of aftershocks.

One aftershock with a preliminary magnitude of 4.3 rocked northern Miyagi on Sunday afternoon. There were no immediate reports of damage from the 1:20 quake, whose focus was 10 km underground, and no tsunami warning was issued.

The quake registered 4 on the Japanese intensity scale to 7 in Wakuya and Kanan in the prefecture, according to the Meteorological Agency.

Another intensity-4 quake on the Japanese scale hit northern Miyagi around 4:43 p.m.

More than 200 aftershocks strong enough to be felt were recorded in the region earlier in the day.

The chances of a magnitude 5.5 quake occurring within 24 hours are less than 10 percent, but those for a quake of at least magnitude 4.5 are 50 percent, the agency said.

Saturday’s magnitude 5.5, 6.2 and 5.3 quakes left over 420 people injured. It was the first time since 1949 that a series of earthquakes of around magnitude 6 occurred consecutively.

But Meteorological Agency officials said Saturday’s quakes are apparently not linked to the so-called Miyagi-oki earthquake, which has hit the region cyclically about every 30 to 40 years and last struck in 1978, killing 28 people.

Saturday’s quakes were also different in type from the magnitude 7 quake that hit the Tohoku region May 26.

On Sunday morning, the agency lifted all heavy-rain warnings for Miyagi, initially issued Thursday, but maintained its mudslide advisory.

Some 2,500 people spent the night in public shelters as six homes were completely ruined and some 900 houses partially destroyed, according to local police. Over 30 nonresidential buildings were also ruined.

Power has been restored at all the approximately 100,000 households affected by blackouts after the quakes, and the Sanriku Expressway was reopened.

But disruptions in water services continued at some 12,000 households in Sendai and other areas, police said.

East Japan Railway Co. said it has resumed most operations on the Tohoku Line.

In the town of Kanan, where a four-car train derailed on the JR Ishinomaki Line, cranes have finished moving the train off of the tracks. Service on the line is expected to resume Monday.

Yoshitada Konoike, state minister for disaster prevention, arrived in the afflicted areas Sunday leading a government inspection team.

Miyagi Gov. Shiro Asano, meanwhile, will cut short his trip to Latin America and return to Japan on Wednesday afternoon, the prefectural government said. Asano, now in Brazil, was scheduled to return Thursday after visiting Argentina to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of local societies by Miyagi emigrants.

He has also canceled plans to attend Friday’s crisis management seminar in Tokyo organized by the Fire Defense College for local government chiefs.

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