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Strong earthquake rattles eastern Japan

TOKYO — An earthquake struck eastern Japan late Wednesday, shaking buildings in Tokyo and other nearby areas, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The 5.8-magnitude quake hit at 11:40 p.m. and was centered some 40 miles beneath the earth's surface in Ibaraki state, northeast of the capital, the Meteorological Agency said.

A magnitude-5 earthquake can cause damage to homes if it occurs in a residential area. But the depth of the temblor dampened much of its potentially destructive power.

The temblor, which lasted more than 30 seconds, was most strongly felt in Tsukuba city, in Ibaraki state, and Miyashiro town, in Saitama state, the agency said. Office buildings and homes in Tokyo swayed for about 10 seconds. It also shook cities in Tochigi, Chiba, Gunma, Kanagawa, Shizuoka and Nagano prefectures.

Tsukuba city police spokesman Nobuo Abe said there were no reports of quake-related injuries or damage. He said the temblor wasn't strong enough to dislodge items from shelves.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. official Katsuya Uchino said power plants and electricity services across the region were unaffected.

However, the quake triggered an automatic safety device on trains, temporarily bringing railway transport in Tokyo and other areas to a halt, according to Japanese media. Service was resumed minutes later, the reports said.

There was no danger of tsunami — or huge waves triggered by seismic activity — the agency said.

Japan, which rests atop several tectonic plates, is among the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.