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Strong earthquake jolts central Japan, 5 injured

world Updated: Apr 15, 2007 15:39 IST

AP
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An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.4 jolted central Japan on Sunday, injuring at least five people, damaging houses and a 400-year-old castle, police and officials said. There was no danger of a tsunami, the Meteorological Agency said.

The 12:19 pm quake was centered in Mie prefecture (state), about 320 kilometers (200 miles) southwest of Tokyo, and about 16 kilometers (10 miles) underground, agency official Kazumitsu Yoshikawa said.

Two people, a 59-year-old woman and 60-year-old man, suffered minor head and shoulder injuries at a roadside restaurant in Kameyama city when part of a ceiling fell on them.

A woman's arm was bruised by a falling lampshade in nearby Tsu city, a man in Yokkaichi suffered a minor leg injury, and a man in Suzuka fell and sprained his wrist, Mie prefectural official Yoshihisa Ito said. The quake also caused part of a stone wall to collapse at the more than 400-year-old Kameyama Castle, but nobody was injured, according to local police.

Several houses were partially damaged, but no one was injured inside, Ito said. Yoichi Matsushita, a city official in nearby Suzuka, told public broadcaster NHK that there was a brief blackout after the quake in parts of the city, but electricity was restored quickly. He said there were no reports of major damage.

Authorities briefly suspended local train services and closed roads to perform safety checks, but transport services quickly resumed, Ito said.

A motorcycle race at Suzuka Circuit carried on as normal, Kyodo News agency reported.

Sunday's temblor was not related to a pair of fairly powerful quakes on Saturday one near a remote island in the Pacific Ocean south of Tokyo and another one off the northeastern coast of Ibaraki, meteorological official Yoshikawa said.

He also warned residents of possible minor aftershocks from Sunday's temblor over the next few days.

In March, a magnitude 6.9 quake in northwestern Japan killed one person and injured more than 200 others.

Japan sits atop four tectonic plates and is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world. In 1995, a magnitude 7.2 quake killed 6,433 people in the western city of Kobe.