Two strong earthquakes jolt Japan

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Shake map showing intensity of the first quake. Star marks the epicenter.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), at least two strong earthquakes with a magnitude of 6.7 and 6.8 rocked the west coast of Honshu, Japan killing 8 people and injuring hundreds.

A two hour fire was reported at the Kashiwazaki Nuclear Power Plant number 6 reactor transformer, which is the biggest nuclear power facility in the world, causing radioactive water to leak into the sea. Officials at the plant state that the water will cause no damage to the surrounding environment.

The epicenter of the first quake was located 65 km (40 miles) southwest of Niigata city, a major city on the west coast of Honshu, of 55.4 km (34.4 miles). The second quake, a 6.8, was recorded almost 12 hours later approximately 140 km (90 miles) northwest of Fukui Island, Honshu, Japan and had a depth of 350.7 km (217.9 miles).

"Many people told me they want to return to their normal lives as quickly as possible. The government will make every effort to help with recovery," said Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says that no major tsunamis are expected, but small waves could impact areas locally close to the epicenter.Small, 50 centimeter tsunamis "were reported on coastal areas close to epicenter," said a statement on the USGS website which also added that in Kashiwazaki, "buildings collapsed, roads and bridges were damaged." The USGS says that damage is "moderate to heavy."

"A strong earthquake has occurred, but a tsunami is not expected along the California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, or Alaska coast. No tsunami warning or watch is in effect for these areas," added the NOAA statement.

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