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Osaka earthquake: Three dead, more than 10 injured

Osaka earthquake: Three dead, more than 10 injured
Smoke rises from a house blaze in Takatsuki, Osaka, following an earthquake on Monday. - AP
TOKYO: Three people have been confirmed dead including a nine-year-old girl and more than 10 others have been injured as a result of a powerful earthquake striking Osaka prefecture in western Japan on Monday morning, China’s Xinhua news agency reported local rescue officials as saying.

Japan's disaster management minister Hachiro Okonogi said there are people buried under the rubble of a collapsed building and local rescue officials are trying to locate them.

According to local media reports, there have been outbreaks of fires and burst pipes as a result of the quake and a number of people are believed to be trapped inside elevators, local rescue officials said.

While no tsunami warning or advisory was given as a result of the quake, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said the magnitude 6.1 earthquake was upwardly revised from a preliminary 5.9 temblor, which struck Osaka at 7.58am local time.

Scattered objects lie in the kitchen of a damaged house in Osaka, following an earthquake on Monday. - Kyodo News via AP
According to Kansai Electric Power Co, more than 170,000 homes in Osaka and neighboring Hyogo prefectures suffered power outages as a result of the quake and Osaka Gas Co. said it has suspended gas supply to around 108,000 households in Osaka as a precautionary measure against fires.
According to the Transport Ministry, both Shinkansen bullet train and local train services in the region were suspended and along with commuter services being seriously disrupted, the three airports in the region, officials said, were forced to temporarily suspend their services.

Japanese Self-Defense Force (SDF) fighter jets and helicopters have been deployed to the area to investigate the scene, government officials said.

The epicenter of the quake was located at a latitude of 34.8 degrees north and a longitude of 135.6 degrees east and at a depth of 10 km, according to the weather agency.

The quake logged lower 6 in some parts of Osaka prefecture and upper 5 in neighboring Kyoto prefecture on the Japanese seismic intensity scale which peaks at 7, according to the JMA.

The jolt was also felt in the nearby prefectures of Hyogo, Kyoto, Shiga and Nara.

Japan's public broadcaster NHK said that senior government officials gathered for an emergency meeting at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's office to assess the situation.

Abe told a press briefing on the incident that the government will make its utmost efforts to deal with the effects of the earthquake. He told reporters that government officials are operating under the instructions that saving and safeguarding people's lives is the priority.

The Japanese premier also said he has given instructions for local officials to carry out damage assessments as quickly as possible and do their very best to save and rescue lives.

Abe went on to say that he wanted the public to be kept informed as the incident continues to unfold. -- Bernama