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Strong 6.3-magnitude quake hits off Japan, injures 17

TOKYO -- A strong 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck off southern Japan early Friday injuring 17 people, reports said as officials warned residents to be alert to the danger of landslides following the tremor.

There was no tsunami warning or reports of major damage.

Public broadcaster NHK said 17 people were injured. None of the injuries seemed to be life-threatening.

The epicenter of the quake — which struck at 2:06 a.m. (1706 GMT Thursday) — was located 13 kilometers north of the city of Kunisaki, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The quake hit at a depth of 82 kilometers.

Japan's Meteorological Agency said there was no risk of a tsunami but urged residents to stay on alert.

“We fear the danger of rockfalls and landslides has increased” in areas that felt strong tremors, Yohei Hasegawa, director of the agency's earthquake and tsunami observation division, told a news conference.

The quake, which the Japanese agency measured as having a preliminary magnitude of 6.2, registered a strong intensity in parts of southwestern Shikoku, the main island of Honshu and southern Kyushu islands.

There were no abnormalities detected at the Ikata nuclear plant in Ehime prefecture or at the Shimane plant in Shimane prefecture.

More than 18,000 people died when a 9.0-magnitude undersea earthquake sent a towering tsunami barreling into Japan's northeast coast in March 2011 in the country's worst post-World War II disaster.

Cooling systems at the Fukushima nuclear plant were knocked out, sending reactors into meltdown and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee.

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A road is blocked with fallen rocks caused by an overnight earthquake in Seiyo city, Ehime prefecture, Shikoku islands, western Japan on Friday, March 14. The earthquake has caused minor injuries and scattered damage in southwestern Japan and delayed trains Friday morning. (AP)

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