Strong quake hits Osaka, Japan

Strong earthquake strikes Japanese city

A strong quake hit Osaka city on Monday morning, rattling one of Japan's industrial heartlands, but appearing to spare the region of any major damage.

The quake hit the city a little after 8am local time on Monday, midnight United Kingdom time, during the morning rush hour.

More than 170,000 homes are without power, but no abnormalities have been reported at the region's nuclear power plants and no tsunami warning has been issued.

Local officials confirmed the death toll, which includes two men in their 80s, after the area was shaken shortly after 8am local time on Monday.

Three people were confirmed dead, including a nine-year-old girl, who was reported to have died after a school wall fell on her.

The other man, 84, was killed by a falling bookshelf in his home in Ibraki.

An elevator operator said there were at least 70 cases of people being temporarily trapped inside elevators in Osaka Prefecture and nearby areas, while the police said a water pipe on a road in Takatsuki burst and flooded the area.

The quake hit at 7:58 a.m. and initially measured a magnitude of 5.9 but was later raised to 6.1, according to Japan's Meteorological Agency.

Transport was disrupted and trains stopped amid power outages during the morning commute as the natural disaster struck at 8.a.m. local time (23.00 Sunday, UTC) at a depth of about 13 kilometers (8.1 miles).

A 30-year-old lawyer Jun Kawasaki said the quake reminded him of the Kobe quake 23 years ago, and started packing up immediately to run away.

A strong quake shook the city of Osaka in western Japan, causing scattered damage including broken glass and partial building collapses. Television images showed passengers getting off trains onto the tracks between stations.

"I want you to make your utmost effort to restore public transport as well as gas and water supplies", he added.

The Japan Meteorological Agency says a quake with preliminary magnitude of 5.9 struck Monday around 8 a.m. One of the men died after being buried under a collapsed building.

The strongest shaking was north of Osaka, the agency said.

"I saw the ceiling and the floor undulating, and I could barely stand". A magnitude 4.6 quake hit southern Gunma, north of Tokyo, on Sunday, and a magnitude 4.5 temblor struck Chiba, near Tokyo, on Saturday. "I have experienced a few minor quakes before in Osaka, but this was the first time I felt one as big as this", he said, adding that he usually visits Osaka every six months or so.

It also sent three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing Japan's worst postwar disaster and the most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

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