Tokyo — At least three people have died and more than 200 have been injured in a 6.1-magnitude earthquake that struck Japan’s second-largest metropolis of Osaka and surrounding areas on Monday morning.
The quake — which hit one of Japan’s industrial heartlands just before 8am on Monday local time (11pm GMT on Sunday) — halted factory lines and burst water mains, government officials and public broadcaster NHK said.
Trains across the region also came to a halt.
While the quake appeared to spare the region of major infrastructural damage, the Meteorological Agency warned that strong aftershocks could occur, particularly in the next two to three days.
In 2016, the magnitude 7 earthquake that caused significant damage and multiple casualties in southern Kumamoto was preceded two days earlier by a magnitude 6.2 temblor.
At 13km, Monday’s earthquake was relatively shallow, and caused heavy shaking that registered a lower 6 on the Japanese scale of 7.
It was the strongest shaking registered in Osaka under records dating back to 1923. As the quake was centred inland, there was no fear of a tsunami.
All trains and subways across Osaka city were halted, and the bullet train that links Osaka to Tokyo was stopped.
Power was quickly restored to more than 170,000 homes that had earlier been cut off, regional utility Kansai Electric Power Co said.
There were no reports of abnormalities at its nuclear plants in the region.
Three people were confirmed dead, including a nine-year-old girl, who was reported to have died after a school wall fell on her.
NHK footage showed flooding from burst underground water pipes, train passengers forced to exit along train lines, and schoolchildren gathering outside in precautionary evacuations.
The quake struck in one of Japan’s main manufacturing heartlands, home to companies including Panasonic, Nintendo and Keyence, and plants across the area were halted as firms assessed the damage.
Car makers Honda, Mitsubishi Motors and Toyota unit Daihatsu all stopped production at plants in the region.
JXTG Energy shut its Osaka refinery and halted shipments, while industrial machinery maker Kubota, brewer Asahi and cosmetics maker Shiseido all stopped work at factories.
Market reaction to the event was largely muted, with shares in some companies located in the region including Osaka Gas dropping, while Sumitomo Osaka Cement and electrical contractor Kinden gained as the extent of damage from the quake remained unclear.
A major earthquake has long been feared in the area, which is located near several major fault.
Osaka is set to host the Group of 20 meeting in June 2019.
In 1995, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake killed more than 6,000 people when it struck in neighbouring Kobe.
Reuters and Bloomberg