• Kyodo


An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.2 struck a swath of western Japan early Friday morning, registering a strong intensity in parts of Shikoku, Honshu and Kyushu islands but no tsunami was observed, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

A total of 14 people were hurt in Okayama, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, Kochi and Oita prefectures after the 2:07 a.m. quake, according to local firefighters. All are believed to have sustained minor injuries.

Shikoku Electric Power Co. said no abnormality was detected in measuring instrument data at its Ikata nuclear power plant in Ikata, Ehime Prefecture, where a lower-5 was registered on the Japanese seismic scale of 7.

The earthquake originated around 78 km underground in the Iyonada inland sea, sandwiched by three of Japan’s largest islands — Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu.

The strongest intensity of upper-5 was registered in Seiyo, Ehime Prefecture. Lower-5 was registered in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture, Sukumo, Kochi Prefecture, and Usuki, Oita Prefecture.

The agency cautioned that quakes of around intensity 4 could occur in the coming week.

Shikoku Electric said the Ikata plant’s Nos. 1 to 3 reactors detected 45 to 56 gals of ground acceleration in the quake. The plant is designed to withstand up to 570 gals.

Residents near the plant voiced concern after what some described as around 15 seconds of intense shaking. In Ikata town, a 23-year-old convenience store employee said, “I thought the nuclear power plant was alright because it was at worst intensity 5, but if it had been greater. . . .”

In Seiyo city, where the strongest intensity of upper-5 was registered, a 19-year-old convenience store clerk said, “Soft drink bottles fell on the floor. I held onto the counter to support myself but it was really terrifying.”

Chugoku Electric Power Co. said its Shimane nuclear power plant in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, also reported no abnormality.

In Okayama city, a woman in her 70s and two other people sustained minor injuries, firefighters said. In Tamano, Okayama Prefecture, a woman dropped her 1-month-old infant while seeking refuge. The baby is believed to have suffered minor injuries.

In Hiroshima Prefecture, six people are reported to have suffered minor injuries.

Around 8,000 homes in Hiroshima and Higashihiroshima cities in the prefecture temporarily lost power, Chugoku Electric Power said.

Other injuries include two people in their 70s in Hofu, Yamaguchi Prefecture, who fell from their bed, and a man in his 30s who sprained his ankle while seeking refuge. A woman in her 50s suffered minor injuries in Shimanto, Kochi Prefecture.

West Japan Railway Co. said its shinkansen bullet train between Okayama and Shin-Yamaguchi will operate at slower speeds from the start of service on Friday.

Traffic was blocked to assess the impact of the quake in sections of Sanyo Expressway in Hiroshima and Yamaguchi prefectures and Hiroshima Expressway in Hiroshima city, road operator Nexco-West Co. said.