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Quakes Hit Small Islands Off Tokyo

July 20, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ Earthquakes, including a moderately strong magnitude 5.1 temblor, rattled a string of volcanic islands off Tokyo on Thursday, Japan’s Meteorological Agency said.

The biggest quake was centered below the ocean floor off Niijima, about 105 miles south of Tokyo, the meteorological agency said. There were no reports of damage or injuries, said Takehiro Iwamoto of the municipal office on Niijima, an island with 600 residents.

Since 2,670-foot-tall Mount Oyama on the island of Miyakejima began volcanic activity June 26, the Izu islands area has experienced more than 25,000 earthquakes, including about 7,000 strong enough to be felt by humans. One person has been killed.

Last Saturday, a magnitude 6.2 temblor knocked down walls of several homes and caused landslides at several locations on Niijima, forcing the evacuation of about 400 people. Iwamoto said 275 people were still staying at public facilities and relatives’ homes.

The evacuation came as Mount Oyama sporadically spewed ash and smoke during the weekend. About 100 people were evacuated from their homes on Miyakejima, but later were allowed to return home as the volcanic activity appeared to subside somewhat.

Japan is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone nations. It sits atop four tectonic plates, slabs of land that move across the earth’s surface.