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Quake kills four people.

AN earthquake measuring 6.8-magnitude rocked Japan's northwest coast today, reportedly killing at least four people.

The quake injured more than 400 people, flattened hundreds of buildings and triggered a fire at a nuclear power plant.

Fire sirens could be heard in hard-hit Kashiwazaki city, and older buildings were reduced to piles of wood.

Two women died in Kashiwazaki, an official at Kashiwazaki Central Hospital said. NHK News later reported that an additional two people had died.

Flames and billows of black smoke poured from the Kashiwazaki nuclear plant, which automatically shut down during the quake. The fire, at an electrical transformer, was put out shortly after noon, local time, and there was no release of radioactivity or damage to the reactors, said Motoyasu Tamaki, a Tokyo Electric Power Company official.

Some 2,000 people in Kashiwazaki were evacuated from their homes, city official Takashi Otsuka said.

NHK reported nearly 300 buildings in the city had been destroyed.

The Meteorological Agency issued tsunami warnings along the coast of Niigata prefecture, but the warnings were later lifted.

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DEVASTATION: A collapsed house in Kashiwazaki
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 16, 2007
Words:184
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