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6.2 magnitude earthquake hits central Japan; more than 20 aftershocks

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Tokyo (Nov. 22, 2014): A strong 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck central Japan late Saturday, the US Geological Survey said, flattening houses, as media reported 15 people were briefly trapped under collapsed buildings. 

The quake struck at 10:08 pm local time (1308 GMT) at a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles) at the epicentre, in the north of Nagano Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, according to USGS.

Television footage showed flattened wooden houses, a mudslide blocking a road and books fallen off shelves.

The Japan Meteorological Agency measured the quake at magnitude 6.8.

Public broadcaster NHK said 15 residents were temporarily trapped under the houses but all of them, including the injured person and a two-year-old toddler, were rescued.

Electricity was cut off at around 1,600 households.

More than 20 aftershocks hit Nagano following the first big strike Saturday.

The meteorological agency warned strong aftershocks could still occur in the coming week.

There was no damage to any of the seven nuclear reactors at the sprawling Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in neighbouring Niigata prefecture as they have been off-line since 2011.

Other nuclear plants were also intact.

Japan is hit by around a fifth of the world's powerful quakes every year and sits at the conjunction of several tectonic plates.

A strong tremor revives memories of the 9.0 earthquake in March 2011, which triggered a tsunami that sparked the Fukushima atomic disaster and left 18,000 people dead or missing.