Strong earthquakes hit Japan; at least two dead, dozens injured

A strong earthquake struck Japan, as per reports on Thursday.

Tokyo: A strong earthquake struck Japan on Thursday, leaving at least two people killed.

Both victims are from the hardest-hit town of Mashiki, about 15 kilometres east of Kumamoto city on the island of Kyushu, said Kumamoto prefecture disaster management official Takayuki Matsushita, as per AP.

The initial quake struck 11 km (7 miles) east of the city of Kumamoto, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported.

It said the magnitude was 6.2 but later revised it down.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK said the quake registered 6.4. 

The quake also left at least 45 injured.

At around 1503 GMT, another tremor struck the region, according to the USGS.

It was initially measured at magnitude 6.4, before being revised down to 5.9. 

Again, there was no tsunami warning.

At the same time, a fire broke out in Mashiki, a town of about 34,000 people near the epicentre of the quake. 

Some 16,000 households in the area were without electricity and 38,000 homes had no gas supplies in Kumamoto, Japanese media reported.

However, there was no tsunami risk.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe convened an emergency response meeting of emergency officials at his office to plot a response.

"We intend to do the utmost to grasp the situation," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters. "I`m now planning to hear what we have gathered on the situation," as per Reuters.

Japan`s two sole operating nuclear reactors, located on Kyushu, were functioning normally, an official at the Sendai plant operated by Kyushu Electric Power told AFP, though he said technicians were checking for damage.

Japan sits at the junction of four tectonic plates and experiences around 20 percent of the world`s most powerful earthquakes.

But rigid building codes and strict enforcement mean even powerful tremors frequently do limited damage.

A massive undersea quake that hit on March 11, 2011, sent a tsunami barrelling into Japan`s northeast coast, leaving about 18,500 people dead or missing, and sending several reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant in the worst atomic accident in a generation.

(With Agency inputs)