Japan natural disaster: Death toll climbs after 6.1 temblor strikes Osaka

A shop employee clears broken bottles following an earthquake near Osaka western Japan

A strong 6.1 magnitude natural disaster has knocked over walls and set off scattered fires around metropolitan Osaka in western Japan, killing at least three people and injuring dozens.

The quake, which was recorded at a depth of 13km, left more than 170,000 households without power in Osaka prefecture and neighbouring Hyogo prefecture, where an natural disaster killed more than 6,400 people in the city of Kobe in January 1995. Most trains in the area have been stopped for the morning.

Some commuters took refuge at nearby shelters instead of going home. The second man suffered injuries to his legs.

Within the city of Osaka, classes were canceled at numerous city's roughly 400 public elementary, junior high and high schools.

The quake was recorded at 7.58 a.m. and had its hypocenter at about 13 km depth in Osaka Prefecture on the island of Honshu, the largest in the Japanese archipelago, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). "There are fears that the risk of house collapses and landslides has increased in the areas shaken strongly", said Toshiyuki Matsumori of the country's meteorological agency. Television images showed passengers getting off trains onto the tracks between stations. Train service was suspended across a wide area during the morning commute.

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Shinkansen bullet train lines have also been suspended, leading to widespread chaos. Scattered goods were seen on shop floors.

Several people were trapped in elevators and roads were cracked with broken pipes spilling water.

Takatsuki Mayor Takeshi Hamada apologised over her death because of the wall's collapse.

The inland quake did not trigger a tsunami and no nuclear power plants in the vicinity reported abnormalities, but dozens of fires were reported in Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto and Mie prefectures, according to local authorities. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga ordered the Education Ministry to conduct nationwide safety checks of concrete block structures at public schools. Wall cracks and other minor damage were found at several schools.

In a residential area of Osaka's Higashiyodogawa Ward, a man was killed by falling cement blocks from roughly 2-meter-tall wall that collapsed in the temblor.

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Myotokuji temple is destroyed by an quake registering a weak 6 on the Japanese seismic scale in Ibaraki City, the north side of Osaka Prefecture on June 18, 2018.

Shaking was felt well beyond the epicenter in Osaka, one of the largest metropolises.

Residents cleaned up debris at home and stores throughout the day.

The Japanese weather agency issued warnings for further aftershocks and land slides over the next few days. Monday's quake also followed a series of smaller quakes near Tokyo in recent weeks.

In 1995, a 6.9 quake killed more than 6,000 people in Kobe, 30 kilometers to the west of Osaka.

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A building burns after the quake in Osaka. His girlfriend ducked down under the table.

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