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1 killed in Japan earthquake

Homes collapse after 6.9 magnitude tremor rocks northern coast.

March 25, 2007|Bruce Wallace | Times Staff Writer

TOKYO — A 6.9 magnitude earthquake rocked Japan's unstable northern coast this morning, killing at least one person and injuring more than 150 others.

Images from observation cameras showed buildings swaying violently for as long as 30 seconds. TV stations aired pictures of crushed temples, homes with toppled furniture, and goods scattered across grocery store floors.

One death was reported, a 52-year-old woman killed when she was hit by a falling stone lantern.

The quake struck at 9:42 a.m. off the coast of Ishikawa prefecture, 225 miles west of Tokyo.

It hit particularly hard on the Noto peninsula, which juts into the Sea of Japan.

The mostly rural area is one of the least densely populated in Japan, with no skyscrapers and many homes built using traditional stone roof tiles.

Japan's TV Asahi reported that 180 homes had completely or partly collapsed.

Train companies suspended service on several lines to check for damage, and flights into Ishikawa were grounded.

Power companies said the quake did not damage nuclear reactors in the region, though state broadcaster NHK reported that the Hokuriku Electric Power Co. shut down two reactors at its Shika nuclear plant as a precaution.

Japan has more nuclear power stations than any country except the U.S. and France.

It also sits atop some of the Earth's shakiest ground, at the convergence of four tectonic plates.

Three hours later, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck the South Pacific near the island nation of Vanuatu, followed half an hour later by a magnitude 6 temblor. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

bruce.wallace@latimes.com

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