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  Deadly earthquake hits Japan, damages nuclear power plant
Web Extra Monday, July, 16, 2007

Deadly earthquake hits Japan, damages nuclear power plant

A deadly earthquake shook Japan this morning, killing at least seven people, injuring hundreds more and damaging one of the world's largest nuclear power plants.

At 10:13 a.m. local time, a magnitude-6.7 earthquake hit Japan's west coast, triggering aftershocks that included a 6.6-magnitude earthquake in the Sea of Japan about 12 hours later, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The effects of the earthquake could be felt throughout Honshu, Japan's main island, including in Tokyo, 240 kilometers southeast of the earthquake's epicenter.

The earthquake's tremors caused highways to crumble, a train to derail and numerous buildings to collapse, killing seven elderly people, according to the Associated Press (AP). Perhaps most affected by the earthquake's force were the city of Kashiwazaki and its 90,000 residents, where the earthquake destroyed hundreds of homes and a fire broke out at an electrical transformer at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant, causing Tokyo Electric Co. to shut down three of the plant's generators, according to Reuters. The damage caused the plant to leak 315 gallons of water, which likely flowed out to the Sea of Japan, according to the AP. Officials say the water carried only miniscule traces of radioactive material, posing no environmental threat.

Resting atop four tectonic plates, seismic activity is a common occurrence in Japan. It's been nearly three years, however, since Japan experienced a deadly earthquake. In October 2004, a magnitude-6.6 earthquake struck western Japan, killing more than 25 people (see Geotimes online, Web Extra, Oct. 24, 2004).

Erin Wayman

Details on the earthquakes from the US Geological Survey
Associated Press news story
Reuters news story
"Deadly quakes shake Japan," Geotimes online, Web Extra, Oct. 24, 2004

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