Japan – A strong earthquake jolted Tokyo and surrounding areas early Tuesday morning, throwing food and bottles from store shelves, disrupting transport and closing a nuclear power plant for safety checks.

The magnitude 6.5 quake centered around 150 km (90 miles) southwest of Tokyo damaged the main motorway south from the capital and prompted a brief suspension of high-speed train services, but there were no reports of major casualties.

I was sleeping and there was a big jolt right at the beginning, so I leapt out of bed, said Rieko Yoshizaki, 57, in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka prefecture, near the epicenter.

I was surprised ... and I hugged my dog.

Public broadcaster NHK said 81 people suffered injuries, most of them minor, from the 5:07 a.m. (4:07 p.m. EDT, Monday) tremor.

The quake, with a focus 20 km (12 miles) below the surface of Suruga Bay in Shizuoka prefecture, had a preliminary magnitude of 6.5, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The Tomei Motorway that runs between Tokyo and Nagoya was closed by a landslide and the weather agency warned that heavy rain since Monday meant further slips were possible.

Those storms have killed at least 13 people in Japan, with a further 15 missing.

TV pictures from Shizuoka showed glass bottles shattered on the floor of a convenience store, a TV newsroom with videotapes thrown from shelves, and a temple where tiles had been shaken off the roof and were scattered on the ground. Around 5,000 bottles of iced tea were smashed at one factory.

It was the second strong quake in Japan since Sunday evening and came shortly after a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean.


Chubu Electric Power Co automatically halted operations at its nuclear plant in Hamaoka, Shizuoka, after the quake, which briefly cut power to more than 9,000 homes.

There was a boom that woke me up, said Yukari Yamamoto, 43, a housewife in Shizuoka.

It shook sideways several times. Some letters fell off from the shelf but there was no big damage in the house.

Shares of construction companies such as Obayashi Corp gained on hopes they would gain work from reconstruction efforts after the storms and earthquake.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world's most seismically active areas. The country accounts for about 20 percent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

In October 2004, a magnitude 6.8 quake struck Niigata in northern Japan, killing 65 people and injuring more than 3,000.

An elderly resident compared Tuesday's tremor to 1923's Great Kanto quake that killed more than 140,000 people in Tokyo.

It was big enough to wake me but not big enough to push me off the bed. My son and the family rushed down from upstairs and gathered in my room, said 93 year old Miyako Shiraishi.

It was certainly scary, but not so much compared with the Great Kanto earthquake. At the time my parents had a store in Tokyo and it was disastrous.

(Additional reporting by Issei Kato, Chisa Fujioka, Yoko Kubota, Aiko Hayashi, Osamu Tsukimori and Elaine Lies; Writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by Michael Watson)