6.2-magnitude quake rocks western Japan

Strong-Japan-Earthquake

TOKYO – A 6.2-magnitude earthquake shook western Japan, damaging homes and injuring seven people, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Oct. 21 temblor struck west of Osaka near the city of Kurayosh, about 430 miles west of Tokyo. According to Japan’s meteorological agency, the area also experienced a 5.0-magnitude aftershock. No tsunami risk resulted.

The quake had a depth of just 6.3 kilometers, considered shallow. Though shallow quakes typically cause the most damage, the impact from this one was minor and localized.

“We felt fairly strong jolts, which I think were the biggest in years,” Tottori government official Suminori Sakinada said.

At least two homes were destroyed and fires broke out nearby. About 40,000 homes were temporarily without power from damaged power lines, and bullet train service was suspended. Nuclear reactors were switched off and were not damaged.

Aid groups remained on standby to offer support. “We’re hearing reports of homes suffering damage. Several major highways have been closed off while the authorities assess their safety and tens of thousands of people have been left without power,” said Kunio Senga, CEO of Save the Children Japan.

Situated at the juncture of four tectonic plates, Japan experiences frequent seismic activity, resulting in strict building codes that greatly limit the damage caused by even strong temblors.

In March 2011, a massive undersea earthquake produced a tsunami on the island nation’s northeast coast that left 18,000 people dead or missing and caused three nuclear reactors to go into meltdown.

In April, two strong quakes and more than 1,700 aftershocks in the southern Japan’s Kumamoto prefecture left at least 50 dead and caused widespread damage.

After the April quake, the medical aid charity Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) dispatched a team to Kumamoto, where about 108,000 remained displaced a week later. Team members reported a severe lack of healthcare in one village where homes and medical centers had been destroyed. MSF officials also surveyed shelters and suggested ways to improve hygiene conditions.

Pray for the people of Japan and the outreach of such organizations as MSF.