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Another strong quake hits northern Japan
( 2003-10-08 10:12) (Agencies)

A strong 5.1-magnitude earthquake jolted the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido early Wednesday, the third quake to rattle the region in two days and the latest since a powerful temblor injured more than 700 people there less than two weeks ago.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage.

Wednesday's earthquake struck at 2:41 a.m. about 30 miles under the ocean floor just off the island's remote eastern coast, Japan's Meteorological Agency said. There was no danger of tsunami, potentially dangerous ocean waves triggered by seismic activity, the agency said.

It comes just a day after two similar quakes, including one of magnitude 5.6, rattled the region and after the release of new warning that a major fault line in the area still has pent up energy to release.

A researcher at the Japan Marine Science and Technology Center predicted the region could be hit again by a quake of similar to the 8.0-magnitude one that slammed Hokkaido on Sept. 27.

That tremor the world's strongest seismic jolt since a magnitude-8.4 temblor that killed 74 people in Peru in June 2001 damaged homes and roads, leaving about 756 people injured, 59 seriously. Two fishermen were missing and believed to have been swept away by tsunami waves, some as high as 13 feet.

Using seismic sensors to assess an undersea fault, the researcher said the Sept. 27 quake hadn't expended all the energy built up there and that another 7.5-magnitude quake is possible.

A magnitude-5 quake can damage buildings; a magnitude-7 is capable of causing widespread, massive damage. Japan sits atop four tectonic plates or slabs of the earth's surface and is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries.

 
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