At least 6 dead, 8 missing in Japan's 7.2 quake

KURIHARA, Japan - A magnitude-7.2 earthquake ripped across mountains and rice fields in northern Japan on Saturday, killing at least six people dead as it sheared off hillsides, jolted buildings and shook nuclear power plants. At least eight people were missing.

Military helicopters swarmed the quake zone 250 miles north of Tokyo, ferrying in supplies and flying injured to hospitals. Officials said at least 144 people were injured and landslides trapped 100 bathers at a hot spring resort.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said the government was mobilizing troops, police and "everybody we possibly can" to find the missing and rescue and treat the injured.

"Our most important task is to save as many lives as possible, and we are doing the best we can," he said.

The force of the quake, which was followed by 153 aftershocks, buckled countless roads, including one highway that was severed when a stretch of land collapsed, creating a cliffside. Electricity was cut to about 29,000 households and water to about 500 others, though services were mostly restored by Saturday night.

At a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, the jolt splashed 5 gallons of radioactive water from two pools storing spent fuel, operators said. Trade and Industry Ministry official Yoshinori Moriyama, however, said there was no leakage outside the plant.

The three dead included a man who ran out of a building in fear and was hit by a passing truck, another man buried in a landslide while fishing, and a construction worker who was hit by a falling rock at a dam, officials said.

The 8:43 a.m. quake was centered in the northern prefecture (state) of Iwate, and was located about 5 miles underground ó revised from an initially estimated depth of 6.2 miles 10 kilometers. It was felt as far away as Tokyo.

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Let's hope for a minimal loss of life.

Not sure if what happened at the nuke was newsworthy except for putting something out there the nuke haters can make hay with.