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Strong earthquake near Osaka, Japan, kills 4, knocks down walls

Residents in western Japan were clearing debris Monday night after a powerful earthquake struck the area around Osaka, the second largest city in the country, killing four people and injuring hundreds as they tore down walls and caused fires.

The magnitude The 6.1 earthquake that struck the area early Monday damaged buildings and left many houses without water or gas. The earthquake also landed flights in and out of Osaka and paralyzed traffic and commuter trains for most of the day.

At night, the bullet trains and some local trains had resumed operation, and the stations were crowded with travelers trying to get home, many of them waiting in long lines. An exodus of travelers who decided to walk home filled the sidewalks and bridges.

Some travelers took refuge in nearby shelters instead of going home. NHK public television showed dozens of men with ties and briefcases sitting on gym mats in a high school gym in the city of Ibaraki, where some families also congregated.

The city of Takatsuki confirmed another victim on Monday night. . City officials had no details of the victim, but NHK and Kyodo News reported that an 81-year-old woman was found dead under a closet that fell on her at her home in Takatsuki.

Also in Takatsuki, a concrete The wall of a primary school fell into the street and killed 9-year-old Rina Miyake as she walked towards the school. NHK showed the collapsed top half of the high wall, which was painted happily with flowers, trees and blue sky and surrounded the school's pool.

Mayor Takeshi Hamada apologized for his death due to the collapse of the wall. The city recognized that the wall did not comply with the building's security codes. The structure was old and made of concrete blocks, a known risk in earthquakes. The Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, ordered the Ministry of Education to carry out security checks at the national level of concrete block structures in public schools.

More than 1,000 schools were closed in Osaka and nearby prefectures, Kyodo News reported. Cracks in the wall and other minor damages were found in several schools.

A man in his 80s died in the collapse of a concrete wall in the city of Osaka. An 85-year-old man in neighboring Ibaraki died after a bookstore fell on him at his home, according to the disaster management agency.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said that 307 people were treated for injuries in hospitals. Most of the injured were in Osaka. Osaka officials did not give details, but the injuries reported in Kyoto and three other neighboring prefectures were minor.

The earthquake occurred shortly before 8 am north of Osaka at a depth of about 13 kilometers (8 miles), the Japan Meteorological. Agency said. The strongest quake occurred north of Osaka, but the quake struck much of western Japan, including Kyoto, the agency said.

Dozens of domestic flights in and out of Osaka were punished, while the train and subway service in the Osaka area including bullet trains was suspended to verify damage. The passengers left the trains on the tracks between the stations.

Subway service resumed in the afternoon, but the stations were still crowded with passengers waiting for the trains to restart, many of them sitting on the floor. Long lines of people waited to board bullet trains while resuming the operation.

Some manufacturers, including automakers Daihatsu Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co., manufacturers of Panasonic and Sharp Corp. electronics, and confectioners Ezaki Glico Co. and Meiji Co., temporarily halted production lines in its factories in the region for security controls, reported the press reports.

The earthquake toppled walls, broke windows and caused fires in scattered buildings. He demolished the furniture in the houses and the products on the floors of the stores. It also cracked roads and broke water pipes, leaving houses without water.

Many houses and buildings, including a major hospital, were temporarily without power, although electricity was restored in most places by mid-afternoon.

Due to damage to underground gas lines, 110,000 homes in the cities of Takatsuki and Ibaraki had no gasoline, and repairs are expected to take up to two weeks, according to Osaka Gas Co.

More damage to the building was found In the afternoon when the relief and relief workers inspected they cleaned the affected areas. Roofs and tiles in houses and at least one temple fell to the ground in Osaka. In a sanctuary in Kyoto, the stone lanterns broke and collapsed to the ground.

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

Residents cleaned debris at home and stores throughout the day. Officials of the meteorological agency warned of strong aftershocks in the area, urging residents to stay away from damaged structures.

The earthquake reminded many of the Kobe magnitude 7.3 earthquake in 1995 that killed more than 6,000 people in the region. The earthquake on Monday also followed a series of smaller earthquakes near Tokyo in recent weeks. The northern prefectures of Japan are still recovering from a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in 2011 that killed more than 18,000.

"It was not as bad as the Kobe earthquake," said Jun Kawanami, a 30-year-old lawyer in Osaka. He said his wife crouched under a table and that the elevators in his office building were out of service. "I used the staircase but I was breathless when I got to my office on the 22nd floor," he said.

This story has been corrected to say that the earthquake happened shortly before 8 am, not after.

Hiromi Tanoue in Osaka contributed to this report.

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