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More Shocks Jolt Japan

Dozens of aftershocks rattle residents of Hokkaido as they begin cleaning up after a magnitude 8 quake. Injury toll reaches 467.

September 27, 2003|From Associated Press

URAKAWA, Japan — Strong aftershocks rocked Japan's northern island of Hokkaido early today, as residents swept up broken dishes and stood in line for water a day after a magnitude 8 quake.

A magnitude 6 aftershock at 5:38 a.m. today was among dozens that followed Friday's temblor. A few scattered buildings collapsed in aftershocks that registered as high as 7.1 in magnitude.

But overall damage was light, partly because Friday's "great" quake struck 26 miles under the ocean bed and 60 miles offshore.

Hokkaido's prefectural government said 467 people had been hurt, but only 28 had broken bones or other serious injuries. Most suffered minor scrapes caused by broken glass and falling objects or hurt themselves trying to flee.

Power and water service resumed in most locations after several hours. But in Urakawa, a town of 16,000 about 560 miles northeast of Tokyo, about 60% of the community was without running water. Thousands waited to fill bags and bottles at military water trucks.

In Kushiro, restaurateur Sachiko Katsuta said: "I thought for sure this was the big one. But it looks like we got by with just a few broken dishes and windows."

There were no reports of deaths directly caused by the quake. Two fishermen were missing, and police suspected they might have been swept away by tsunamis, or ocean waves caused by the quake.

A 61-year-old man cleaning up broken bottles after the earthquake was struck by a car and died, police said. A 58-year-old man died while trying to sail to calm waters, but officials said he had heart problems and a tsunami didn't appear to be the cause.

A wide swath of the island suffered damage: The quake buckled roads, capsized fishing boats, and caved in part of the ceiling of the airport in Kushiro, a city of 190,000 that is 560 miles northeast of Tokyo.

Yasuhiro Umeda, a seismologist at the Disaster Prevention Research Institute at Kyoto University, said the swaying was less violent than would have been expected but was felt across a wide area. He also credited the region's experience with strong temblors as helping to prevent a disaster.

About 41,000 people were evacuated to shelters, but by evening, only 1,400 evacuees had not returned home, said Hiroyuki Nakao, a government spokesman.

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Recent quakes

May 21, 2003: Algeria

A magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck Algeria in the capital and nearby towns to the east, killing 2,251 with 10,243 injured. Hundreds still are missing.

March 26, 2002: Afghanistan

At least 1,500 people were killed when a series of earthquakes, measuring between magnitude 5 and 6, struck northern Afghanistan, destroying the district capital of Nahrin.

Jan. 26, 2001: India

A magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck the western state of Gujarat, killing at least 19,700 people and causing damage in neighboring Pakistan. The quake affected 15.9 million people in 7,904 villages.

Sept. 21, 1999: Taiwan

At least 2,000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands made homeless by a magnitude 7.6 quake in central Taiwan.

Source: Reuters

Los Angeles Times

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