Several injured as magnitude 5.2 quake rattles east Japan



An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.2 jolted eastern Japan early Thursday, including Chiba Prefecture and downtown Tokyo, leaving several people injured, according to the Japanese weather agency and local authorities.

The 4:16 a.m. quake registered upper 5 on the Japanese earthquake intensity scale of 7 in Kisarazu and lower 5 in Kimitsu, both in Chiba Prefecture, and 4 in areas including Tokyo’s Chiyoda and Shinagawa wards, according to the Meteorological Agency. No tsunami warning was issued.

The agency defines an upper 5 on the shindo scale as a situation in which many people find it difficult to walk. It was the first time since March 2012 that Chiba Prefecture had been rocked by an upper 5 quake, according to the agency.

The agency warned that quakes on a similar scale could occur for about a week. The quake measured 4 in Mihama Ward in the city of Chiba and some wards in Yokohama and Kawasaki.

Two women sustained minor injuries in Chiba Prefecture, and another two people were hurt in Kanagawa Prefecture, including a man who was hit by a falling ceiling light while he was sleeping. There were no immediate reports of casualties in Tokyo.

Some East Japan Railway services that run through Chiba Prefecture, including on the Uchibo and Sotobo lines, were canceled or delayed. In Kisarazu, roof tiles were dislodged and scat-tered on the ground. Dozens of elevators, mostly in high-rise condominium buildings in Tokyo, as well as Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures, stopped auto-matically due to the quake, with maintenance staff having to restart them manually.

But nobody was reported to be trapped inside, according to elevator manufacturing and maintenance company Elevator Systems.

The quake originated in southern Chiba Prefec-ture at a depth of around 40 kilometers. The agency initially reported a magnitude of 5.4 but later revised it to 5.2.

Although no significant damage or serious inju-ries have been reported so far, residents in Chiba Prefecture expressed fear while officials scrambled to gather information.

“I woke up with the sound of an alert on my cell phone. I didn’t think it would be this big, I was so scared,” Rei Ishii, 16, said at Kisarazu Station in the morning.

Sachiko Uchida, a fishing boat operator in Kis-arazu, said roof tiles of her house fell and were scat-tered on the ground. “After a big ‘bang,’ there were strong horizontal jolts and I couldn’t stand. Then I heard a big noise and saw tiles falling,” she said.

An official at Kimitsu city hall said although the quake was big, he didn’t see any big damage on his way to work.

Chiba Gov. Toshihito Kumagai instructed offi-cials to prepare for large aftershocks for the time being. “We must be fully ready to respond,” he said.—Agencies