by Mari Yamaguchi
TOKYO (AP) – A powerful 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck the Tokyo area Thursday night, injuring more than 30 people, damaging underground water pipes and halting trains and subways.
Officials said there was no tsunami threat, but traffic remained disrupted the next morning, local trains were delayed and commuters crowded Rome stations.
The Meteorological Agency said the quake was centered in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, at a depth of about 80 kilometers (48 miles).
This caused buildings to shake and objects such as signs to swing violently. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said there were no abnormalities in nuclear power facilities in the area.
Most of the trains operated on Friday morning, but with major delays and entry restrictions to avoid overcrowding. There was a long waiting line outside Shinjuku Station in Tokyo and hundreds of morning commuters were flowing through Kawaguchi Station.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said on Friday that 32 people were injured in the quake, three of them in critical condition.
Police in Chiba Prefecture, where 11 people were injured, said two women sprained ankles when they were thrown to the floor at different places during the quake. According to the disaster management agency, a commuter train in eastern Tokyo partially derailed when it made an emergency stop, causing three passengers to fall and slightly injured.
Others were wounded in Kanagawa, Saitama and Gunma Prefectures.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings said that about 250 homes in the city of Tokyo were temporarily out of power.
The East Japan Railway Company said that “Shinkansen” Super Express trains in and out of Tokyo were stopped for security checks, but later resumed operations.
Tokyo’s Yamanote Loop line and subway resumed late Thursday, but with major delays. Outside Tokyo’s Shinagawa station, where local trains were temporarily halted due to a power outage, people queued up to bring taxis home.
Dozens of people were stranded at stations in Tokyo, Kanagawa and Chiba, and some took refuge in facilities set up by local municipalities.
Several elevators, including Tokyo’s Metropolitan Government Building, stopped on their own, leaving some people temporarily trapped.
Fire and disaster officials said underground water pipes were damaged in dozens of places in Tokyo. Water was flowing from the ground in one district.
New Prime Minister Fumio Kishida posted a message on Twitter urging people to “check the latest information and take action to protect their lives”. He said it was the strongest tremors in Tokyo since March 2011.
Kishida returned to his office late Thursday to lead the government’s response.