Page last updated at 07:16 GMT, Monday, 26 March 2007 08:16 UK

Japan suffers quake aftershocks

Japanese policemen clear rubble from a collapsed house in Wajima on 26 March 2007
Police and government troops are helping to clear up the area

Powerful aftershocks have struck the western coast of central Japan, a day after an earthquake killed one person and injured nearly 200 others.

Some of the aftershocks measured as much as 5.3 in magnitude and similar shocks were also felt in Vanuatu, which was also hit by earthquakes on Sunday.

While the Pacific island suffered no damage, in Japan some buildings were affected, and water mains broken.

The Japanese government has pledged to help those affected by the quake.

"The government will make every effort to help the victims of the earthquake so they can resume normal lives," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a parliamentary committee on Monday.

He said that 68 houses had been destroyed and another 164 damaged - mainly in and around Wajima, a resort and fishing town on the western side of the Noto peninsula.

More than 2,500 people spent Sunday night in emergency shelters.

"The aftershocks are scary, so I spent last night in an evacuation centre," 83-year-old Kiyo Kawaguchi told Reuters news agency.

Seismically active

Sunday's earthquake struck at 0942 (0042 GMT). Its epicentre was 300km (200 miles) north-west of Tokyo, Japan's meteorological agency said.


More than 100 tremors were detected throughout the day, with a 5.3-magnitude quake reported at 1815 local time (0915 GMT).

Another 5.3 magnitude tremor was felt on Monday morning, and a 4.8 quake felt later in the afternoon, Japan's meteorological agency said.

Television pictures showed buildings in the Ishikawa prefecture shaking violently for about 30 seconds and Japan's public broadcaster NHK reported that several buildings had collapsed.

A 52-year-old woman died in Wajima, after being trapped under a stone lantern that toppled in her garden, reports said.

"I wasn't able to stand at all, it was really terrible", one woman in Wajima told NHK.

Many of those injured were hit by falling debris or broken glass and are being treated in hospital, with some said to be badly hurt.

Government troops have been sent to the area to assist with the clear up and warnings have been issued of further aftershocks in the affected region.

Shelter in Wajima
Many residents in Wajima sought shelter during the aftershocks

About 1,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and given temporary shelter in Wajima, reports say.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world's most seismically active areas.

In October 2004, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck the Niigata region in northern Japan, killing 65 people and injuring more than 3,000.

In 1995 a magnitude 7.2 tremor killed more than 6,400 people in the city of Kobe.

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Country profile: Japan
03 Jan 07 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Vanuatu
09 Mar 07 |  Country profiles

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