JAPAN has been struck by a magnitude 5.0 earthquake today, in Kumamoto prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu.
An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.0 hit southern Japan on Thursday but no tsunami warning was issued, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said, and there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The quake, which struck at 6:10 pm (9.10 GMT), was centred in Kumamoto prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu, at a depth of 10 km (6 miles), JMA said. Public broadcaster NHK reported that nuclear power facilities in the region were operating as normal.
Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world's most seismically active areas. Japan accounts for about 20 percent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.
Japan lies on the ever-active Ring Of Fire, a horseshoe-shaped area where around 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes occur.
In Japan, as many as 1,500 earthquakes are recorded yearly, and magnitudes of four to six are not uncommon.
There are earthquakes or minor tremors which occur practically daily across the country.
Major earthquakes are not as common, however, there are several notable and destructive quakes to have occurred in recent years.
The most famous in the 20th century were: the Great Kantō earthquake of 1923, in which 130,000 people died; and the Great Hanshin earthquake of 17 January 1995, in which 6,434 people died.
And more recently on March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit Japan, the country's biggest ever and the fifth largest on record, according to US Geological Survey data.