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6TH LD: 7 people injured in Tokai quake.

TOKYO, Oct. 31 Kyodo

(EDS: UPDATING NO. OF INJURED)

A strong earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale jolted the Tokai region early Tuesday, injuring seven people in Mie, Aichi, Nara and Gifu prefectures.

Prefectural officials said four people suffered minor injuries in Mie, one in Aichi and another in Nara. One man suffered serious injuries in Gifu.

The temblor, which struck at around 1:43 a.m., registered a lower 5 on the Japanese seismic scale of 7 -- strong enough to crack concrete fences -- in central Aichi, the Meteorological Agency said.

The agency put the estimated magnitude of the earthquake at 5.5, instead of 5.7 as initially announced.

Among the hardest hit communities was Hekinan in central Aichi.

The agency traced the epicenter of the quake to southern Mie Prefecture and the focus of the temblor to about 40 kilometers below the earth's surface.

Naoya Mikami, an official at the agency's Earthquake and Tsunami Observations Division, told a news conference that the quake was caused by the subduction of an oceanic plate in the Philippine Sea.

''We expect aftershocks of the quake to be infrequent as the focus of the temblor is pretty deep,'' he said.

Seismologists ruled out a tsunami from the quake.

According to the agency, the area previously experienced two large-scale earthquakes, the first with a magnitude of 7 in 1899. The second, the Tonankai quake in 1944, had a magnitude of 7.9 and killed about 1,000 people.

Officials closed a section of the Tomeihan expressway between Kanie in western Aichi and Yokkaichi in northern Mie as a precautionary measure, but reopened it later.

The earthquake was felt as far as Fukui Prefecture, western Shizuoka Prefecture, and southeastern Hyogo Prefecture.

Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) inspected lines in Mie Prefecture causing some delays in operations. The Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train is operating normally.

Meanwhile, another earthquake, registering an Japanese intensity of 4, hit Oshima, Toshima, Niijima and Shikinejima in the Izu island chain south of Tokyo at around 4:20 a.m.

The agency put the magnitude of the quake at 4.9. There were no immediate reports of casualties and no tsunami warnings were issued.
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Publication:Japan Weekly Monitor
Date:Nov 6, 2000
Words:366
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