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Home » Archives » July 2007 » Large Earthquake Hits Japan Sea Coast

Large Earthquake Hits Japan Sea Coast

Monday, July 16, 2007 Posted: 03:38 PM JST

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 hit Niigata and Nagano prefectures at 10:43 this morning. In one of the worst hit areas, the city of Kashiwazaki with a population of 95,000, many hundreds of houses have been destroyed or damaged. At least one train derailed and more than 35,000 households are without water and gas. As of 3 PM Japanese time, two dead and more than 320 wounded have been reported.

NHK reported that smoke was seen rising from Kashiwazaki's nuclear reactor, the world's largest. The Japanese government said that several helicopters had been detached to check for radiation leaks and that none had been found. At least 3 of Niigata's 7 nuclear reactors have been shut down.

Shinkansen (Bullet Train) and other rail connections were halted, but most have now been restored.

Prime Minister Abe, who was in Nagasaki to campaign for this month's parliamentary elections, immediately returned to Tokyo. The central government has set up an emergency response center.

The earthquake comes two years after the same area was hit by the Chuetsu Earthquake, with a magnitude of 6.6. The Chuetsu Earthquake claimed 67 lives.

UPDATE 16:50 JST: The death toll now stands at 5.

Keywords: national_news

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2 comments so far post your own

1 | At 04:06am on Jul 17 2007, Samuel Nicholson wrote:
I was in Japan in the 1960ies and after the Nigata earthquake I went there on a relief mission. I don't remember the exact date (about 1964?) but the destruction was severe. Most of the bridges in town were out and most downtown modern buildings sank about four feet. Trains couldn't get into Nigata station and some six toory buildings were at crazy angles.
I wonder how this quake compares and if Japan has learned how better to protect buildings and bridges from earthquakes.
2 | At 01:16pm on Jul 17 2007, Kjeld Duits wrote:
The Niigata Quake of the 1960's was extremely bad. Japan has learned a lot in the past few decades and damage after a major quake like yesterday's is limited in comparison. In Showa 56 (1981), Japan's new stricter building code became active. Houses and buildings built since then are far more quake-resistant. During the 1995 quake in Kobe and yesterday's quake it was mostly buildings built before 1981 that collapsed. With as a result that most of the dead are in their 70s and 80s. Actually, yesterday's seven dead were all in those age groups, living in houses that were 50 to 100 years old.
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