4 killed as powerful earthquake hits Osaka

A 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck Osaka and neighbouring prefectures in western Japan at 7.58 am during rush hour on Monday (June 18), killing at least four people and disrupting morning train services and power supply.

A 9-year-old girl died after a wall beside a school’s swimming pool fell on her in Takatsuki, a city in Osaka Prefecture. In another incident, an 80-year-old man died in Osaka’s Higashi-Yodogawa Ward when a house wall crashed on him. In the third incident, an 84-year-old man died in Ibaraki, Osaka, after a bookshelf fell on him at his home. An 81-year-old woman died in Takatsuki after a wardrobe fell on her, local officials said late on Monday,

The earthquake also left dozens injured in and around Osaka, a major manufacturing centre.

A temple collapsed in Ibaraki City. The Meteorological Agency warned residents of aftershocks in the next two to three days.

Commuters had a hard time as service on the Sanyo Shinkansen Line was suspended due to a power outage between Shin-Osaka and Okayama stations. Some passengers got off trains and started walking on the tracks between stations (fallen electronic sign at Ibaraki Station pictured – Courtesy:Twitter / @chyadosensei)

Power was cut to over 170,000 households in Osaka and Hyogo prefectures between 9 am and 11am.

Kaori Iwakiri, a nurse in Moriguchi north of Osaka city, told AFP that the floor of her house moved violently. Nearly all of the dishes fell and shattered on the floor.

Eiji Shibuya, another resident from Itami in eastern Osaka, told the agency that he was worried about his son who had just left for his high school. He was relieved when told the boy was safe.

None of the nuclear power plants in Japan were affected by the quake, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said.

The areas near Oi nuclear plant in Kanagawa prefecture and Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture recorded seismic intensities that were not strong enough to trigger an automatic shutdown.

In 2011, a 9.0 magnitude quake struck under the Pacific Ocean caused a tsunami which sent three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant.