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Moderate Quake Jolts Northern Japan

A moderate earthquake shook northern Japan (search) late Thursday, the quake-prone country's second tremor this week. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

The quake, which hit at 10:29 p.m. (1329 GMT), had a preliminary magnitude of 5.0 and was centered off the Pacific coast of Miyagi prefecture (state) at a depth of about 80 kilometers (50 miles) beneath the ocean floor, the Meteorological Agency said.

There was no threat of tsunami (search), the potentially destructive waves triggered by seismic activity or underwater landslides, the agency said.

In Kessenuma city, about 350 kilometers (217 miles) northeast of Tokyo, the shaking lasted for about 10 seconds but there were no calls from residents about damage or injuries, said a city police official who declined to be identified.

The tremor wasn't strong enough to dislodge items from shelves or knock over standing lamps, he said.

It was the second jolt in less than a week in northern Japan.

An aftershock to a strong earthquake that rocked Niigata prefecture, on Japan's western coast, in October struck the same region Tuesday. There were no reports of damage or injuries in that quake, but railway officials temporarily halted the shinkansen, or high speed bullet train, for safety checks.

On Oct. 23, a magnitude-6.8 earthquake struck Niigata, about 260 kilometers (160 miles) northwest of Tokyo, killing 40 people and damaging more than 6,000 homes. The jolt was the deadliest to hit Japan since 1995, when a magnitude-7.2 quake killed 6,433 people in the western city of Kobe.

Japan, which rests atop several tectonic plates, is among the world's most quake-hit countries.

A magnitude 4 quake can sway houses and buildings and cause hanging objects, such as lamps, to swing.