Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Earthquake Strikes North of Tokyo; Injuries Reported

Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) -- A magnitude 7 earthquake struck the Tohoku region north of Tokyo at 11:46 a.m., The U.S. Geological Survey said on its Web site. The quake caused `many' injuries in the city of Sendai, Kyodo News reported.

The earthquake struck 55 kilometers (34 miles) below the surface off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture, the USGS said. The epicenter was located 354 kilometers north-northeast of Tokyo, where buildings shook for as long as two minutes.

As many as 80 people were injured after the roof of an indoor swimming pool in Sendai collapsed, NHK Television reported, citing local authorities. The government set up an emergency task force in the Prime Minister's official residence in Tokyo to coordinate its response to the earthquake, it said in a statement. Many people were injured by falling objects in Sendai, Kyodo News said, citing Sendai's fire prevention and control administration.

Haneda Airport was closed for checks on the runway, a spokesman said. Three expressways were closed in the Tohoku region north of Tokyo. East Japan Railways Co., Japan's biggest operator of train services, halted its Tohoku bullet train for safety checks, the company said.

Nippon Oil Corp., Japan's biggest petroleum refiner, said operations at its Sendai refinery in Miyagi prefecture were stopped after the quake.

A tsunami warning was issued for a 50 centimeter wave (20 inches) to reach the coast by noon local time, NHK Television reported, citing Japan's Meteorological Agency.

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