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Japan struck by strong earthquake

BBC News | March 20, 2005

At least 250 people in Japan have been injured and at least one killed by a powerful earthquake, reports say.

The quake - which had a magnitude of seven - damaged buildings and cut utility supplies.

It struck west of Kyushu Island, just 9km (5.5 miles) below the ocean floor. Several strong aftershocks followed.

Initial fears that the quake might set off a tsunami were later dispelled by the Meteorological Agency. "We aren't worried about tsunami damage," it said.

Most of the injuries came in Fukuoka prefecture.

People were hurt by falling furniture, broken glass, or by hot cooking stoves, public broadcaster NHK said.

Kyodo news agency said a 75-year-old woman had died.

'First experience'

"We have had frightened residents coming to the store because their own homes are shaking with every aftershock," said Shigeru Harada, a manager at a supermarket in Fukuoka city.

"It was so strong that I thought my house would collapse. I rushed to turn off the stove and got out. I felt uneasy because it was my first experience," said Toshiyuki Yasukawa, a Fukuoka official.

Water and gas supplies were disrupted, while bullet train services were stopped by automatic trigger systems.

In the tiny island of Genkai, off the coast of Kyushu, about 100 residents left their homes as some collapsed and others were badly damaged, NHK said.

The quake was also felt in South Korea, but there was no major damage reported there.

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