UPDATE 1 – Strong earthquake strikes northern Japan, causing injuries

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A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.7 has struck northern Japan, centered near the cities of Tomakomai and Sapporo, seismologists say. There are reports of injuries.

The earthquake, which struck at about 3:08 a.m. local time on Thursday, was centered on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. It struck at a shallow depth of 31 kilometers (19 miles).

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said the earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.7, causing strong shaking in the surrounding area. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) put the preliminary magnitude at 6.6.

The Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that homes had collapsed and injuries were being reported at several locations. Widespread power outages were also reported and the 119 emergency number is down in some areas.

The Japanese government has activated the disaster management center.

Both JMA and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there is no threat of a tsunami from Thursday’s earthquake. However, some coastal areas could experience slight sea-level changes.

Japan sits on the so-called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin which is prone to frequent and large earthquakes. Volcanic eruptions also occur frequently in the region.

In March 2011, an enormous 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northeastern Japan, generating a devastating tsunami that wiped out entire communities and killed at least 15,893 people and left more than 2,500 others missing and presumed dead.

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