Home > Focus on Japan 2004 > Niigata Hit Hard by String of Quakes (Felt Across Central Japan)

Niigata Hit Hard by String of Quakes (Felt Across Central Japan)

October 23rd, 2004

We are in the process of being hit by a string of strong earthquakes right now. At least one is a 6.8 (Richter scale, it seems) centered in Niigata, but it was felt strongly here. About 3-4 minutes later, I felt another smaller one, and then just now, another strong one, just as strong as the first. And these are up-and-down, not side-by-side quakes.

More as it comes in.

Update: just a few minutes later, I’m on the phone with my brother, and another one hits. that’s three fairly good-sized quakes, ranging from at least 5.5 and up to 6.8 on the Richter. I would not want to be in Niigata right now.

NHK is reporting that the last quake was also a 6+, though they only say it’s a 5.9 on the Richter.

Update (6:20): Tenki.jp is reporting that the second big quake I felt was a 6.2 on the Richter. They also report the other two quakes.

Update (6:35): Another one! This one just past 6:30, and it felt stronger than the others! I heard the NHK guy in Niigata on TV report it first, camera shaking and all, and then felt it here just a few seconds later.


One TV station says it was a 6.3 (NHK concurs), [update: another quake I didn’t feel here but was a 5.0 in Niigata; another also hit later] making the sequence:

5:56 pm: 6.8 M
6:03 pm: 6.2 M
6:12 pm: 5.9 M
6:34 pm: 6.3 M
6:36 pm: 5.0 M
6:51 pm: 5.1 M

No reports of damage or injury yet, but this quake hit in the countryside some miles south of Niigata City, so it could be a few hours before we get solid info on exactly what the damage is up there.

Update (7:00): The quake is now being reported in the international press, the best item issued by The Scotsman. Trains have stopped across the region (not a weekday, but still a heavy traffic time).

NHK is now reporting some building damage in Niigata, a broken water main, and a minor train derailment, possibly a bullet train. At least five injuries in one area have been reported, but no fires.

Update (7:22): Correction, ten people with injuries and counting. Reports of mudslides and collapsed houses are trickling in.

Update (7:48): At least one death has been reported, as well as a number of fires. 50-60 people are now reported injured. We are hearing of collapsed walls and fences and other damage. Some areas are affected by a power outage, other reports have electricity on but street lights out. The derailment was indeed a bullet train, with cars #1 and 9 going off the tracks, but it seems like there’s not much damage there, no injuries on the train. There is also a report of a partially collapsed expressway. The train left Tokyo at 4pm, and was scheduled to arrive in Niigata at 6. Aftershocks–some of them over 5 on the Richter scale–continue to rock the area. A 5.2 hit at 7:36, and now reports are coming out of a low-6 quake hitting at 7:46.

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  1. October 26th, 2004 at 13:33 | #1

    Hi Luis,

    I run a non-profit news site on Japan and am looking for people who can leave a short personal comment about their experience of the quake. Even if they don’t live in Niigata itself.

    A simple comment would be fine. Anything more detailed would be fantastic.

    I would appreciate it a lot, as it would give a more human voice to the reports about the quake.

    My site: http://www.iKjeld.com
    The page for comments: http://www.ikjeld.com/japannews/00000061.php

    I like your blog a lot. Please do submit it at my Japan Links directory at http://www.ikjeld.com/linker/index.php?cat=300

    Speak to you soon.

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