Japan

Magnitude 6.5 quake hits Hokkaido, after Friday's strong quake

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Tokyo (dpa) - After Friday's magnitude 8.0 earthquake, which hit Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, the area was struck with a magnitude 6.5 quake on Monday morning, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.

No casualties have been reported due to the quake, which hit Hokkaido at 11:37 a.m. (0237 GMT).

A second earthquake-related fire at an oil refinery in Hokkaido continued Monday as firefighters tried to contain the blaze using foam and other fire-extinguishing material sent from around the nation.

Firefighters have dumped massive amounts of fire-extinguishing material onto the fire in a 30,000-kilolitre naphtha tank at Idemitsu Kosan Co.'s refinery in city of Tomakomai in Hokkaido, fire department officials said.

But due to strong winds, firefighters evacuated the area. Naphtha is a liquid hydrocarbon mixture used to make gasoline and officials feared the fire could spread to three other nearby naphtha tanks.

The second fire started Sunday morning when the cover of the 30,000-kiloliter naphtha tank was shaken open and liquid spilled out due to aftershocks from the massive earthquakes that hit Hokkaido on Friday.

A fire broke out at a different tank Friday morning following the two powerful earthquakes that injured hundreds in Hokkaido. That fire was put out seven hours later but most of the firefighting material kept at the refinery was used up in the operation, Idemitsu Kosan officials said.

The refinery has 105 tanks containing crude oil, kerosene, naphtha and other oil-related materials, and 45 of the tanks were damaged to some extent or other by the quakes. Workers found structural damage and oil leaks at 29 of the tanks, the officials said.

No injuries have been reported from the fire at the naphtha tank or the earlier one at a petroleum tank some 200 metres away.

The epicentre of the latest earthquake was off the coast of Kushiro coast, about 600 kilometres northeast of Tokyo. The quake was believed to have occurred about 30 kilometres below the earth's surface.

On Friday morning, two severe earthquakes, which had magnitudes of 8.0 and 7.1 on the Richter scale, hit Hokkaido, leaving three people missing and injuring nearly 600 people.

dpa ck pw AP-NY-09-29-03 0135EDT

Copyright (c) 2003 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 09/29/2003 01:36:07

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