A powerful6.9 magnitude earthquake struck northern Japan today, causing strong tremorsacross Hokkaido island but no damage to several nuclear facilities in theregion, officials said.
The quake,which was preceded by an early warning broadcast on television and radio, hitnear the town of Obihiro at a depth of 103 kilometres at 11:17 pm (1947 IST), accordingto US Geological Survey data.
Ten peoplesuffered minor injuries due to falling objects, broken glass and otherincidents, according to national broadcaster NHK, but authorities said noserious damage was reported and the quake did not generate a tsunami.
The shaking lasted about a minute, and video taken in the offices of NHKHokkaido showed computer screens swaying and shelves threatening to give way.
Bottlessmashed to the ground in supermarkets, some areas had power blackouts and anumber of highways were closed. Trains were stopped on rural tracks as aprecaution. "Beware of possible landslides and buildings that could havebeen weakened," an official from Japan's Meteorological
Agencywarned at a press conference.
The mostviolent tremors were felt in the eastern part of Hokkaido -- the nation'ssecond largest island and a popular skiing destination -- but the northern partof the island was also shaken along with parts of the main island of Honshu, whereTokyo is located.
Utilityfirms said no abnormalities were reported at the Tomari nuclear plant inHokkaido's west, nor in the nuclear facilitiesin Aomori, the northernmost prefecture on Honshu.
Aomori ishome to the Higashidori nuclear reactors and a nuclear reprocessing plant inRokkasho which is currently in a testing phase, as well as fuel storage sites.
At presentonly two of the country's 50 reactors are operational, after the entire networkwas shuttered over several months for scheduled safety checks following the quake-tsunamidisaster of March 2011.
Both are inOi, in Honshu's west.
Shortlybefore today's quake hit, an alert was broadcast on television and radiothrough an early warning system established by the weather agency, andprogrammes were interrupted on NHK.
"Makeyourself safe, turn off the gas, beware of falling objects, and if you areoutside do not approach the coast," a broadcaster said.