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7.0 earthquake jolts Okinawa awake Saturday morning

Date Posted: 2010-03-01

An earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter Scale rumbled across Okinawa at 5:31 a.m. Saturday, causing shaking and swaying on Okinawa’s main island, and injuring two people.

The Japan Meteorological Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake as being centered 50miles east southeast of Okinawa, at a depth of 6.2 miles (10 kilometers). A tsunami warning was immediately issued with the agencies predicting a three-foot wave, but that warning was quickly downgraded to an advisory about 6:30 a.m., and then canceled at 7 a.m. after the tsunami wave measured only 10 centimeters as it rolled across the island’s east coast. The 10-centimeter waves were observed and recorded at Nanjo City and at Minamidaito Village just before 6 a.m.

“I was fast asleep when the quake hit, and I jumped out of bed, “said a town official in Nishihara, Ryota Ueno. “It felt like the shaking lasted forever.” A 74-year-old Naha City woman was slightly injured when she fell from her bed, while a 66-year-old woman in Urasoe City was hurt when she took a tumble. A water tank on the roof of an Okinawa City home fell to the ground, and damage was reported to water pipes and water tanks in Naha City, Haebaru Town, and Nishihara, and on Kumejima.

The morning earthquake was the most severe to be recorded on Okinawa since 1909. An earthquake in 1911 measured an upper 5 reading on Okinawa, with its epicenter off Amami-Oshima Island. Two people were reported killed in the August 1909 earthquake.

Saturday’s quake measured 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in Itoman City, while Nago City, Naha City and other parts of the main island recorded 4’s. Yoron Island in Kagoshima Prefecture to the north also registered readings of 4, while other parts of Okinawa and Kagoshima recorded 3’s.

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