A strong earthquake jolted the Tokyo area Saturday afternoon, paralyzing train and subway services and disrupting road traffic.
At least 23 people in Tokyo and Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures were injured in the 4:35 p.m. quake, which the Meteorological Agency said registered a magnitude of 6.0, the strongest to hit the capital in 13 years.
No tsunami warning was issued, and there were no reports of deaths or missing persons as of late Saturday evening.
The quake measured upper 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in Adachi Ward, Tokyo, and lower 5 in southern Saitama, southern and northwestern Chiba and eastern Kanagawa prefectures.
An intensity of 4 was registered in Tokyo’s other wards, southern Ibaraki Prefecture and other areas.
It was the first time since February 1992 that the Tokyo metropolitan area experienced a quake with an intensity of 5 or more, according to the Meteorological Agency.
The agency defines an intensify of upper 5 as strong enough to make most dishes in a cupboard fall and can collapse unreinforced concrete-block walls.
The focus of the quake was 73 km underground in northwestern Chiba, the agency said, adding it was triggered by movement at a thrust fault between the Philippine plate and the Pacific plate.
Authorities warned that aftershocks of up to 4 on the Japanese scale could hit the region over the next few days.
A woman in Chiba Prefecture suffered a serious leg fracture.
In Konosu, Saitama Prefecture, five people suffered minor injuries when they were hit by a falling signboard at a supermarket, according to local police.
In Tokyo’s Adachi Ward, a 93-year-old woman fell from the porch of her house and sustained minor injuries.
A parked car rolled off a multistory parking lot in Koto Ward. It fell 10 meters and was wrecked, but no one was hurt.
A small steel tower collapsed in Edogawa Ward and damaged the roof of a nearby house. Although nobody was injured, the accident temporary cut power to households near Koiwa Station of the JR Sobu Line.
In Kamogawa, Chiba Prefecture, nearly 500 houses temporarily lost their water supply.
The fire department also said it received nearly 50 emergency calls about people being trapped in Tokyo elevators that stopped automatically due to the earthquake.
At the Tokyo Metropolitan Government complex in Shinjuku Ward, 210 tourists were trapped in an observatory on the 45th floor for more than an hour after elevators came to a stop.
Runways at Narita and Haneda airports were closed briefly as officials checked for possible damage.
Service on the Tokaido, Tohoku and Joetsu shinkansen lines was temporarily suspended. The subsequent delays affected about 18,000 passengers.
Conventional trains and subways in Tokyo were suspended for hours, causing chaos at major stations already congested because schools are out for summer vacation.
Services on the Yamanote Line were fully resumed about three hours after the quake. It took roughly four hours before Tokyo Metro subway services returned to normal. Train operators said they did not find any damage to tracks and other railway facilities.
Expressways were closed in many parts of the Kanto region, causing heavy traffic jams on surface roads.
No damage to electric power facilities was reported, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co.
Amusement facilities at the Tokyo Disney Resort in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, were automatically halted, operator Oriental Land Co. said, adding no one was injured in the quake.
At Mizonokuchi Station on Tokyu Corp.’s Denentoshi Line in Kawasaki, the steel frames of the station structure squeaked, and a female passenger on a just-arrived train was heard screaming. Many of the passengers rushed out onto the platform.
At JR Shin-Kiba Station in Koto Ward, the area around the automatic ticket gates was jammed with passengers waiting anxiously for train services to resume.
“I was going home with my friends. How should I get home,” lamented a 13-year-old girl who was trying to take a train home after participating in a sporting event at a nearby facility.
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