TOKYO – A powerful earthquake measuring a magnitude of 6.9 on the Richter scale hit the Hokuriku region of Japan early Sunday, killing one woman, injuring 162 people and setting off a small tsunami.

The earthquake, at 9:42 a.m. local time, caused tremors that registered an upper 6 on the Japanese intensity scale of 7 on Noto Peninsula- the first time an intensity of 6 or higher had been recorded in the Ishikawa prefecture (state), the Meteorological Agency said. Tremors of an intensity of 3 were recorded in wide areas of the Hokuriku, Tokai and Kinki regions.

Police said Kiyomi Miyakoshi, a 52-year-old woman in Wajima, died after a stone lantern toppled on her at her home.

In Ishikawa, 46 buildings were destroyed and 239 were severely damaged.

According to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, 12 people were seriously injured and 150 were slightly hurt by the earthquake.

The Meteorological Agency said a small tsunami was observed just after 11 a.m. in Suzu. The agency warned residents in areas near the coast that a larger tsunami could hit the area, but the warning was called off at 11:30 a.m. for coastal areas of Noto and Kaga.

According to the agency, the epicenter of the earthquake was under the sea about 19 miles southwest of Wajima, with the focus about seven miles underground. Aftershocks jolted the region into the afternoon, with 67 tremors recorded as of 1 p.m.

The government set up a task force in the Prime Minister’s Office and dispatched Kensei Mizote, state minister for disaster management, to the affected region. The Defense Ministry also set up a team to collect information about the damage. Ishikawa Gov. Masanori Tanimoto asked the ministry to dispatch Self-Defense Forces units to help provide disaster relief.

Traffic also was disrupted by the earthquake. The Construction and Transport Ministry said Noto Airport in Ishikawa had been closed because many cracks and bumps had been found on its runway.

East Japan Railway Co. briefly suspended train services between Echigo-Yuzawa and Niigata stations on the Joetsu Shinkansen Line after the earthquake. The train services were resumed at 12:25 p.m.

According to JR East and West Japan Railway Co., services on a section of track between Tsuruga and Naoetsu stations on the Hokuriku Line and several other railway lines were suspended, and some time would be needed before they reopen.

Hokuriku Electric Power Co. said the earthquake cut power to 35,000 households in the Noto area. Although power was soon restored to most households, the blackout still affected about 140 homes in Nanao and about 200 in Anamizumachi as of 1 p.m.

In Anamizumachi, about 200 households were without water, and the town government asked the Air Self-Defense Force’s Komatsu Air Base to dispatch water tank trucks.

An intensity of upper 6 was recorded in Nanao, Wajima and Anamizumachi in Ishikawa prefecture; lower 6 in Shikamachi, Nakanotomachi and Notocho in the prefecture; and upper 5 in Suzu. An intensity of lower 5 was recorded in Toyama and Imizu in Toyama prefecture, and Kariwamura, Niigata Prefecture, and 4 in northern Nagano prefecture, Fukui prefecture and Gifu prefecture.

An intensity of 3 was recorded in Yamagata, Fukushima, Shizuoka, Aichi, Mie, Kyoto, Shiga, Osaka, Hyogo and Tottori prefectures, according to the agency.

Hokuriku Electric said the operation of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors of its nuclear power plant in Shikamachi were not affected because both reactors had been suspended for inspections.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said all nuclear reactors in its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station in Niigata prefecture were not affected by the earthquake and continued to operate as normal.


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