TOKYO – A strong earthquake rocked northern Japan (search) on Monday near the area where the country's deadliest quake in a decade struck last month. At least eight people were injured.
The 5.9-magnitude quake, which hit at 11:16 a.m., was centered close to the earth's surface in the Chuetsu area of Niigata state (search), the Meteorological Agency said. It was considered an aftershock to the 6.8-magnitude tremor that hit on Oct. 23, the agency said.
After the quake, service on a high-speed train line between Tokyo and Niigata was suspended for safety checks. One train derailed last month when the initial quake struck almost directly under its tracks.
Television footage from Niigata showed swaying power lines and ceiling lamps. Three weaker tremors of magnitudes 5.0, 4.5, and 4.2 struck in rapid succession in the half hour following the initial aftershock, the Meteorological Agency said.
There was no danger of a tsunami, or ocean waves triggered by seismic activity, it said.
A man in Uonuma was injured after being buried briefly by a small landslide, said Atsushi Moriyama, a spokesman for Niigata state. Five kindergarten students and their teacher were hurt in a nearby town when a wall they were walking past collapsed, and a woman was injured after she lost control of her motorbike, he said.
Takeshi Minagawa, an official at the town hall in Nakanoshima, among several towns the quake shook, said he felt 10 seconds of rocking, though items did not fall off shelves.
The town closed several roads to confirm they were safe after the quake, Minagawa said.
The Oct. 23 jolt that struck Niigata and the aftershocks in the days that followed killed 39 people and injured more than 2,000. It was the deadliest quake to hit Japan since 1995, when a magnitude-7.2 quake killed 6,433 people in the western city of Kobe.
Thousands of people in the area are still living in temporary public shelters or are camped out in tents and cars because of damage to their homes.
"Aftershocks are still occurring in this area and there is high probability another quake of the same strength will strike again within the next month or so," agency official Masahiro Yamamoto told a televised news conference.
Japan, which rests atop several tectonic plates, is among the world's most earthquake-prone countries.