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Strong earthquake shakes Tokyo area

A strong earthquake shook Japan's capital and surrounding areas yesterday, halting trains and a professional baseball game, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

There was no threat of a tsunami from the quake, which was centered at a depth of 188 miles (303 kilometers) in the Izu islands off the eastern coast of Japan, the US Geological Survey said.

The USGS measured the quake at magnitude 7.1, while the Japan Meteorological Agency put it at 6.9.

The quake, which rattled furniture and walls in Tokyo homes, hit at 7:56 pm (1056 GMT) and shook the capital region, including Ibaraki, Saitama, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures, the Japanese agency said.

A baseball game in Yokohama between the Yokohama Bay Stars and Chunichi Dragons was stopped temporarily by the umpire when the quake struck. Some high-speed bullet trains also were halted, but began running again after the shaking stopped, public broadcaster NHK said.

Japan is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries, and experts believe Tokyo has a 90 percent chance of being hit by a major quake over the next 50 years.

In 1995, a magnitude-7.2 quake in the western port city of Kobe killed 6,400 people.


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