5.5-magnitude quake hits Japan’s Hokkaido, no tsunami risk

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A 5.5-magnitude earthquake jolted Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido Thursday but there was no tsunami warning and no immediate reports of injuries or damage, authorities said.

The quake struck at 9:22 pm local time (1222 GMT) at a depth of 41 kilometres (25 miles), according to the US Geological Survey.

The epicentre was around 55 km (35 miles) southeast of the city of Sapporo, the USGS added.

The Japanese meteorological agency confirmed there was no tsunami risk following the jolt.

“The government is doing its best to grasp the situation, but so far there has been no report of major damage,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo in the immediate aftermath.

No abnormality was detected at nuclear plants in the region, Suga said, adding that the government was prepared to mount rescue operations if required.

Shinkansen bullet train services were temporarily suspended in Hokkaido but no major blackout was reported.

Footage from public broadcaster NHK showed lights flickering on and off in a town close to the epicentre.

In September last year, a powerful 6.6-magnitude quake in rocked Hokkaido, triggering landslides, collapsing houses and killing more than 40.

Japan sits at the junction of four tectonic plates and experiences a number of relatively violent quakes every year.

But rigid building codes and strict enforcement mean even strong tremors often do little damage.