Two villages devastated in Japanese horror quake

Half'collapsed houses are surrounded by debris in the vilage of Hakuba. Picture: AFP

Half'collapsed houses are surrounded by debris in the vilage of Hakuba. Picture: AFP

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THE damage from an earthquake in a mountainous area of Japan that hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics is worse than ­initially thought.

A daylight assessment yesterday found at least 50 homes destroyed in two villages in the overnight quake and 41 people injured across the region, including seven seriously, mostly with broken bones, officials said.

The magnitude-6.7 earthquake struck shortly after 10pm on Saturday night, west of ­the city of Nagano at a depth of three miles, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The agency revised the magnitude and depth from initial estimates. The US Geological Survey recorded a magnitude of 6.2. Since the quake occurred ­inland, there was no possibility of a ­tsunami.

Ryo Nishino, a restaurant owner in Hakuba, a ski resort village west of Nagano, said he had “never experienced a quake that shook so hard. The sideways shaking was enormous”.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said no abnormalities were reported at three nuclear power plants in the affected areas. All of Japan’s nuclear plants are offline following a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami in 2011 that sent three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant into meltdown. Fukushima is about 155 miles north-east of where Saturday’s earthquake occurred.

The hardest-hit area appeared to be Hakuba, which hosted events in the 1998 winter games. At least 43 homes were destroyed there, and 17 people injured, disaster agencies said. Another seven homes were lost in Otari, a village to the north. Non-residential buildings were also destroyed. Japanese television footage showed buildings in various states of collapse, some flattened with others leaning to one side and deep cracks in the roads. A landslide spilled on to a railroad track. About 200 people from Hakuba and Otari had been evacuated.

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