OJIYA, Japan—A strong tremor measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale on Wednesday struck central Japan, already dealing with the aftermath of a series of powerful quakes, injuring 20 people and damaging buildings, officials said.
The quake was strong enough to sway buildings in Tokyo as it struck 200 kilometers to the northwest in Niigata prefecture near Hirokami village at 10:40 (9:40 a.m., Manila).
Quake victims in shelters hurriedly lay down on the floor for their safety, television footage showed.
At least 31 people have died since Saturday’s initial tremor of 6.8 and from stress amid the hundreds of aftershocks.
The latest tremor injured at least 20 people including a 61-year-old man who burned his hands when his kerosene stove fell, public broadcaster NHK said.
In Ojiya city, the hardest hit by the initial quake, an apartment building collapsed and damaged an adjacent clinic but two residents inside were rescued unharmed, a municipal official said.
The latest tremor also triggered at least one landslide and violently shook elevated rail tracks of Japan’s bullet train—which was derailed for the first time in its 40-year history by Saturday’s quake.
Workers who had been trying to lift derailed train cars were seen scurrying back as the wagons shook with the new tremor.
The meteorological agency revised the magnitude of the latest quake to 6.1 from the initially estimated 6.0. Weather officials said there was no danger of tsunami tidal waves.
The meteorological agency called on Niigata residents to be fully alert.
“We want people to brace themselves for tremors of lower six or even upper six” on the Japanese method of measuring earthquakes which goes up to seven, said Masahiro Yamamoto, who heads the agency’s earthquakes division.
The initial quake of 6.8 on the Richter scale hit the Japanese reading of upper six, the intensity under which people cannot stand but have to crawl.
Nearly 2,530 people have been injured by earthquakes in Niigata region since Saturday.
A 39-year-old woman, her three-year-old daughter and two-year-old son were still missing. Police found the woman’s car under the mud of a landslide Tuesday but fear of a new disaster kept rescue workers from digging the vehicle out.
About 86,000 people were still staying at hundreds of shelters Wednesday after leaving their homes for safety.
The earthquake was the deadliest to hit tremor-prone Japan since 1995, when 6,433 people were killed in the western city of Kobe.