The death toll in a major earthquake that rocked Niigata region of central western Japan and surrounding areas on Monday rose to nine on early Tuesday. Around 930 people were injured.
All nine victims were from the most heavily hit city of Kashiwazaki in Niigata. They were in their 70s or 80s. Most of them died after being buried under flattened houses, Kyodo News said, quoting government officials.
A man was still missing and over 12,000 people spent the night in shelters in Kashiwazaki and other cities in Niigata.
The strong earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale occurred at 10.13 am (0113 GMT) on Monday, with at least 70 aftershocks in the day. One tremor measuring 5.6 jolted the area again on 3.37 pm (0637 GMT). The Japan Meteorological Agency warned that more strong aftershocks are expected within the week.
The epicentre of the major quake was some 60 km southwest of the city of Niigata, around 17 km below seabed in waters off Niigata prefecture, the agency said.
Some 60 elementary, junior and senior high schools in Niigata prefecture will be closed on Tuesday due to the quake.
In October 2004, a major earthquake hit Niigata prefecture, killing 67 people and injuring over 4,800.