Quake shakes NW Japan, causes 21 injuries and minor damage

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This aerial view shows damaged roof tiles of residential houses in Tsuruoka, Yamagata prefecture, northwestern Japan, ON June 19, 2019, after an earthquake. (Kyodo News via AP)
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City officials inspect an area hit by liquefaction in Tsuruoka, Yamagata prefecture, northwestern Japan, on June 19, 2019, after an earthquake. (Kyodo News via AP)
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A city official inspects the damage of a road in Tsuruoka, Yamagata prefecture, northwestern Japan, on June 19, 2019, after an earthquake. (Hironori Asakawa/Kyodo News via AP)
Updated 19 June 2019
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Quake shakes NW Japan, causes 21 injuries and minor damage

  • The earthquake struck 50 KM southwest of the city of Sakata, centered at about 14 KM below the sea’s surface
  • Public broadcaster NHK showed people using flattened cardboard boxes as mattresses to sleep on in a school gym

TOKYO: A powerful earthquake jolted northwestern Japan late Tuesday, causing minor injuries to 21 people and a brief evacuation of coastal homes until the risk of a tsunami passed.
Store floors were littered with goods that fell off shelves, and roofs of homes showed bare spots where tiles had shaken loose. But business was returning to normal Wednesday morning, with trains mostly running as usual and electricity restored to thousands of homes that lost power temporarily.
There were no reports of serious damage from the magnitude 6.7 quake. Minor sea level changes were detected by several coastal cities, but the tsunami warning was lifted after about 2 ½ hours.
Japan’s Meteorological Agency said the earthquake struck off the western coast of Yamagata about 50 kilometers (30 miles) southwest of the city of Sakata. It was fairly shallow, about 14 kilometers (9 miles) below the sea’s surface. Shallow quakes tend to cause more damage.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 21 people were injured, most of them in Yamagata prefecture and that most injuries had minor injuries.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga urged residents to be prepared for possible aftershocks.
Tsuruoka city crisis management official Takehiko Takahashi said in a televised interview that city officials helped coastal residents evacuate to higher ground as a precaution before the tsunami warning was lifted.
More than 1,500 people took shelter at evacuation centers in Murakami city and elsewhere in Niigata prefecture, but many of them left Wednesday morning to check their homes. Public broadcaster NHK showed people using flattened cardboard boxes as mattresses to sleep on in a school gym. Many others, including children, were still awake and sitting against the walls.
Bullet train service was suspended in parts of the region because of power outages and for safety checks, but were functioning normally Wednesday morning. About 9,000 households in Yamagata and Niigata lost power, according to Tohoku Electric Power Co.
All seven reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata were offline and no abnormalities were reported. Two other nuclear power plants in the affected region were also intact, according to the Nuclear Regulation Authority.
NHK showed broken glasses and dishes scattered on the floor of a bar in Tsuruoka which was empty after customers rushed out, leaving behind their half-eaten food on the counter.
Japan is one of the most earthquake- and tsunami-prone areas in the world. On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 quake offshore caused a tsunami that triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The quake and tsunami heavily damaged coastal neighborhoods and took more than 18,000 lives.


No-deal Brexit looms as race for new British PM wraps up

Updated 17 July 2019
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No-deal Brexit looms as race for new British PM wraps up

  • Many lawmakers, business community fear dire economic outcome
  • A majority of lawmakers in the House of Commons are opposed to a no-deal Brexit

LONDON: The battle to become Britain's next prime minister enters the home straight on Wednesday with both candidates hardening their positions on Brexit, putting the future government on a collision course with Brussels.
Ex-London Mayor Boris Johnson, the favourite to replace Theresa May, and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, are now both referring to Britain's departure with no overall deal in place as a realistic prospect.
The business community and many lawmakers fear dire economic consequences from a no-deal Brexit, which would lead to immediate trade tariffs for some sectors including the automotive industry.
Johnson and Hunt are taking part in a final question-and-answer session later on Wednesday before the result of the vote by Conservative Party members is announced next Tuesday.
The new party leader will be confirmed as prime minister by Queen Elizabeth II on the following day.
Britain has twice delayed its scheduled departure from the European Union after 46 years of membership as May tried and failed to get her deal with Brussels through parliament.
The two candidates vying to replace her have vowed to scrap a "backstop" provision in the agreement that Brussels insisted upon to keep the Irish border open.
Their latest attacks on the measure during a debate on Monday prompted a plunge in the value of the British pound.
The currency fell again Wednesday to its lowest level against the US dollar in over two years.
"The tougher stance from both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt in terms of their rhetoric on Brexit is clearly weighing on the pound," said market analyst Neil Wilson.
"Make no mistake, this decline in the pound is down to traders pricing in a higher chance of a no-deal exit."
The backstop has proved a key stumbling block in the Brexit process.
The measure would keep open the post-Brexit border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and EU member the Republic of Ireland whatever the outcome of negotiations over the future relationship between London and Brussels.
Johnson announced early in his campaign that he would not sign up to it and would pursue a no-deal Brexit if required, leading his opponent to follow suit.
However, European leaders have been adamant that the backstop must remain a part of any divorce deal, raising the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who will become European Commission president in November, said the draft withdrawal agreement provided "certainty".
She also broached a possible further delay to Britain's departure, saying: "I stand ready for a further extension of the withdrawal date, should more time be required for a good reason."
Johnson has pledged that under his leadership, Britain will leave "do or die" on the current deadline of October 31.
A majority of lawmakers in the House of Commons are opposed to a no-deal Brexit, but attempts to pass legislation blocking the scenario have failed.
Reports this week suggested Johnson is considering plans to end the current session of parliament in early October, leaving MPs powerless.
Finance Minister Philip Hammond said Wednesday it was "terrifying" that some Brexit supporters thought that no deal would leave Britain better off.
And in a speech in London, May said the "best route" for Britain was to leave with a deal.
Delivering her last major address, she railed against the trend towards "absolutism" in Britain and abroad, and urged her successor to compromise.
"Whatever path we take must be sustainable for the long term, so that delivering Brexit brings our country back together. That has to mean some kind of compromise," she said.