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Earthquake kills 3, injures hundreds in western Japan

Earthquake kills 3, injures hundreds in western Japan
Water from damaged mains floods out from a crack in the road following an earthquake in Osaka, Japan, on June 18. (Yohei Nishimura / Associated Press)

A strong earthquake knocked over walls and set off scattered fires around metropolitan Osaka in western Japan on Monday, killing at least three people and injuring more than 300.

A 9-year-old girl was killed by a falling concrete wall at her school, and the two other fatalities were men in their 80s.

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The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 307 people were treated for injuries at hospitals. Most of the injured were in Osaka — Japan's No. 2 city, bustling with businesses. Osaka officials did not give details, but the injuries reported in Kyoto and three other neighboring prefectures were all minor.

The magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck shortly after 8 a.m. north of Osaka at a depth of about 8 miles, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. The strongest shaking was north of Osaka, but the quake rattled large parts of western Japan, including Kyoto, the agency said.

The quake knocked over walls, broke windows and set off building fires. It also cracked roads and broke water pipes, leaving homes without water.

The morning commute was disrupted as train and subway service in the Osaka area, including the bullet train, was suspended to let authorities check for damage. Passengers were seen exiting trains on the tracks between stations. Dozens of domestic flights in and out of Osaka were grounded.

A falling concrete wall knocked down and killed Rina Miyake as she walked at her elementary school in Takatsuki, officials said. NHK public television aired video showing the collapsed upper half of the high wall, which was painted cheerfully with trees, flowers and blue sky and surrounded the school swimming pool.

Takatsuki Mayor Takeshi Hamada apologized over her death because of the wall's collapse. The structure was old and made of concrete blocks — a known risk in earthquakes. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga ordered the Education Ministry to conduct nationwide safety checks of concrete block structures at public schools.

More than 1,000 schools were closed in Osaka and nearby prefectures, Kyodo News reported. Wall cracks and other minor damage were found at several schools.

A man in his 80s died in the collapse of a concrete wall in Osaka city. An 84-year-old man in nearby Ibaraki died after a bookcase fell on top of him at home, according to city officials.

Many homes and buildings, including a major hospital, were temporarily without power, though electricity was restored at most places by midafternoon.

Defense troops joined rescue and relief operations in parts of Osaka, along with special vehicles to deliver clean drinking water.

About 850 people took shelter at community centers, school gymnasiums and other public facilities in Osaka.

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June 18, 4:10 a.m.: This article was updated throughout with additional details of quake damage.

This article was originally published on June 17 at 8:50 p.m.

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