Magnitude 6.1 quake in Osaka kills three, stops factories

TOKYO A 6.1-magnitude earthquake shook Osaka, Japan's second biggest metropolis, early yesterday, killing three people.

No tsunami warning was issued. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the authorities were assessing damage and their top priority was the safety of residents.

At least 350 people were hurt, public broadcaster NHK said.

Footage showed burst water mains and a house on fire after the quake hit Osaka, which will host next year's Group of 20 summit, just before 8am as commuters were heading to work.

The quake struck an important industrial area of central Japan. Osaka-based Panasonic said it was halting production at three of its plants.

Daihatsu Motor, a unit of Toyota Motor, stopped its factories in Osaka and Kyoto while it checked for damage.

Tractor maker Kubota said it halted two plants in the area, while air conditioner maker Daikin Industries suspended operations at two plants, one of which resumed by noon.

Honda Motor and Mitsubishi Motors said they were resuming operations after temporary suspensions and safety checks.

Sharp Corp also resumed work at a joint venture plant with parent Hon Hai Precision Industry that it had stopped for safety checks.

NHK and other Japanese media said collapsing walls had killed an 80-year-old man and a nine-year-old girl, and another man in his 80s was killed by a toppling bookcase.

"We were sleeping and it woke us up abruptly," said Miss Kate Kilpatrick, 19, an American staying in a hotel. "It was so terrifying because this is my first earthquake. The whole world was aggressively shaking."

She said alarms went off almost immediately in the hotel, and an announcement told guests to stay away from windows.

No irregularities were detected at the Mihama, Takahama and Ohi nuclear plants north of Osaka, Kansai Electric Power said. - REUTERS