x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Strong earthquakes hit Asia

Two powerful earthquakes strike Asia, killing one and injuring dozens in coastal Japan.

TOKYO // Two powerful earthquakes struck Asia early today, killing one and injuring dozens in coastal Japan and sending panicked residents into the streets as tsunami warnings were issued on islands in the Indian Ocean. The US Geological Survey said the first quake, registering a magnitude of 7.6, hit the Indian Ocean about 257km north of Port Blair in India's Andaman Islands. A tsunami watch was called for India, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh, but was later lifted.

T. Ramakrishnan, a police official in Port Blair, said there were no injuries or damage caused by the quake. "But people ran out of their homes in fear as they remembered the 2004 tsunami," he said, referring to waves triggered by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries around the Indian Ocean. The quake was centred at a depth of 33km, the US Geological Survey said. An aftershock measuring 4.8 shook the same area 15 minutes later at a depth of 35km, it said. In Japan, one person was killed and several dozen injured when a 6.5-magnitude quake hit Tokyo and nearby areas shortly after dawn Tuesday, halting trains and forcing two nuclear reactors to shut down for safety checks. Police said one 43-year-old woman was killed by falling debris and at least 63 people were injured. Japan's public broadcaster, NHK, reported that more than 80 people suffered minor injuries. Japan's Meteorological Agency - which downgraded the quake from magnitude 6.6 - also issued a tsunami warning, but that was later lifted.

The quake was centred off Suruga Bay, south-west of Tokyo. The two quakes - though likely not related - hit about 10 minutes apart. *AP