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Quake Rattles Japan Island Chain

July 1, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ A strong earthquake jolted a string of Japanese islands Saturday amid increased volcanic activity, burying a man in a deadly landslide, knocking out power and rupturing water lines.

A huge wash of tree-covered earth slid down a mountain on the island of Kozushima, mounding atop a stretch of coastal highway and muddying the blue ocean, TV footage showed.

Rescuers dug out a driver buried in another landslide on Kozushima, but he died at a hospital, a National Police Agency official said.

The quake, with a magnitude of 6.4, struck at 4:02 p.m. with the biggest impact on the islands of Niijima and Kozushima, the Meteorological Agency said. It was centered about six miles below the Pacific seabed.

There was no immediate danger of damage from tsunami waves whipped up by seismic activity.

Two other cars were buried in landslides on Kozushima, but there were no further reports of injuries. On Niijima island, a taxi was covered in a landslide but the driver was able to dig himself out uninjured, Niijima official Torayoshi Kino said.

The quake cracked and buckled roads on Kozushima, blocking traffic around the 7.6-square-mile island of about 2,300 people, island spokeswoman Chizuru Ishida said. Local officials, fearing further slides, ordered 196 people off the eastern side of the island, Ishida said. There were no reports of anyone missing in the quake, she said.

The tremor cut power throughout the island, but electricity and telephone service had been restored by Saturday evening, Ishida said. Water lines also snapped.

It appears to have done some structural damage to buildings, said Kazumichi Sakamoto, an official at the prime minister’s residence, where an emergency headquarters was set up.

Tokyo City Hall asked for help from the Self-Defense Forces, a metropolitan government spokesman said. The area is within the prefecture of Tokyo, though the city is about 95 miles to the northeast.

Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori was talking with officials. No decision had been made on dispatching the Self-Defense Forces, Sakamoto said.

Aftershocks continued on the islands. There was a danger of further magnitude 5-plus tremors, said Naoya Mikami, a Meteorological Agency official.

The quake shook the island of Miyakejima, just southeast of Kozushima, where residents were allowed to return to their homes Friday after fears of a volcanic eruption on their island subsided.

About half of Miyakejima’s 4,000 residents were evacuated earlier this week after intensifying quakes suggested the island’s 2,686-foot Mount Oyama might be coming to life.

Update hourly