Tokyo-area commuters faced packed trains on Friday as services were still disrupted on some lines after many people were stranded overnight following a magnitude 5.9 earthquake that jolted the metropolitan area late the night before.
The quake, the strongest to hit the capital in 10 years, affected about 368,000 passengers in total, left over 40 people injured and temporarily cut water supplies and power in some areas, although services were quickly restored.
One of the capital’s biggest commuter train stations, Shinagawa, briefly lost power as well, forcing people into long lines for cabs as they tried to get home on Thursday night.
East Japan Railway Co. resumed train services Friday morning but many passengers were forced to wait at stations due to delays. At Kawaguchi Station in Saitama Prefecture, the railroad operator imposed entrance restrictions to avoid overcrowding.
“It has been very crowded since today’s first train. The crowd spilled out of the station, while inside the ticket gates it was packed with people,” said a 77-year-old female worker at a station store.
The operation of the Nippori Toneri Liner, a driverless guideway transit system in Tokyo, remained suspended Friday morning after a train derailed in the capital’s Adachi Ward, one of the areas hit hardest by the temblor the previous night.
Three passengers on the liner fell and were injured after three cars derailed. Outside the line’s Nippori Station, many people formed long lines as they tried to catch taxis and buses on Friday morning.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s transportation bureau, the operator of the line, said it could take several days until services resume. The Japan Transport Safety Board has dispatched officials to investigate the derailment.
Among the 43 people who were hurt, two in Saitama Prefecture and one in Chiba Prefecture sustained severe injuries, according to a tally by the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.
The earthquake, which struck the capital region at 10:41 p.m. Thursday, logged an upper 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale to 7 in parts of Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture. The Meteorological Agency initially said the magnitude of the quake was 6.1 but revised it down early Friday.
It was the first time people in central Tokyo have experienced such an intense shake since the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake, which devastated northeastern Japan and triggered a tsunami and nuclear disaster.
A 28-year-old from Saitama Prefecture who was forced to stay overnight at Yokohama Station when trains were canceled said wearily on Friday morning, “I have to go to work now without having gone home.”
At Chiba Station, trains heading to Tokyo were delayed significantly Friday morning, causing a male commuter in his 50s to change his plans.
“I will just switch to telework,” he said as he walked out of the station.
The weather agency warned that a quake of similar intensity could occur within the week, with an official estimating a 10% to 20% chance based on previous temblors.
There were many reports of burst pipes and water supply cuts in Tokyo, officials said. Water was seen gushing out of a pipeline that runs across a river in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture, late Thursday apparently due to damage from the quake.
There were 28 cases of people being trapped in elevators in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures, but all those incidents have been resolved, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said Friday.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, whose government immediately set up a task force to respond to the quake, arrived at his office at around 11:20 p.m. on Thursday. He told reporters he had ordered officials to help quake victims and prevent further damage.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference that there were no abnormalities reported at nuclear facilities.
The quake triggered a blackout affecting about 250 households in the capital at around 11 p.m., but power was eventually restored.
There were no reports of damage at Narita Airport, east of Tokyo, while transport authorities said all four runways at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport had been reopened after checks following a temporary closure.
Highways in the capital and its vicinity were also briefly closed for checks, while a fire broke out at an oil refinery facility in Sodegaura, Chiba Prefecture, that was quickly put out without causing any injuries.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.