TOKYO - A strong earthquake knocked over walls and set off scattered fires around metropolitan Osaka in western Japan on Monday, killing at least three people and injuring more than 210.
A 9-year-old girl was killed by a falling concrete wall at her school, and the two other fatalities were men in their 80s.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 214 people were treated for injuries at hospitals. Most of the injured were in Osaka — Japan’s No. 2 city bustling with businesses. Osaka officials did not give details, but the injuries reported in Kyoto and three other neighboring prefectures were all minor.
The Osaka prefectural government’s disaster management department confirmed the girl’s death and the death of an older man. The third victim died in the nearby city of Ibaraki.
A falling concrete wall knocked down Rina Miyake as she walked by at her elementary school in Takatsuki. NHK public television aired footage showing the collapsed upper half of the high wall, which was cheerfully painted with trees, flowers and blue sky and surrounded the school swimming pool.
Takatsuki Mayor Takeshi Hamada apologized over her death because of the wall’s collapse. The structure was old and made of concrete blocks — a known risk in earthquakes.
A man in his 80s died in the collapse of a concrete wall in Osaka city. An 84-year-old man in nearby Ibaraki died after a bookshelf fell on top of him at home, according to city officials. Many homes and buildings, including a major hospital, were temporarily without power, though electricity was restored at most places by midafternoon.
The magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck shortly after 8 a.m. north of Osaka at a depth of about 13 kilometers (8 miles), the Japan Meteorological Agency said. The strongest shaking was north of Osaka, but the quake rattled large parts of western Japan, including Kyoto, the agency said.
The quake knocked over walls, broke windows and set off scattered building fires. It toppled book shelves in homes and scattered goods on shop floors. It also cracked roads and broke water pipes, leaving homes without water.
The morning commute was disrupted, as dozens of domestic flights in and out of Osaka were grounded, while train and subway service in the Osaka area including the bullet train were suspended to check for damage. Passengers were seen exiting trains on the tracks between stations. Some subway services started to resume in the afternoon.
The earthquake reminded many in Japan of the magnitude 7.3 Hanshin-Kobe quake in 1995 that killed more than 6,000 in the region. Monday’s quake also followed a series of smaller quakes near Tokyo in recent weeks.
A 30-year-old lawyer Jun Kawasaki said the quake reminded him of the Kobe quake 23 years ago, and started packing up immediately to run away.
“It was not as bad as the Kobe quake,” he told the Associated Press from Osaka. His girlfriend ducked down under the table. Elevators in his office building were out of operation. “I used the stairs but I was out of breath by the time I arrived at my office on the 20th floor.”
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