July 16, 2007—
An aerial view of Kashiwazaki, Japan
, shows the destruction caused by a magnitude 6.6 earthquake on Monday.
The quake struck at 10:15 a.m. in the northwestern state of Niigata, 155 miles (250 kilometers) from Tokyo. In the hardest-hit coastal town, Kashiwazaki, at least 8 people died and 800 were injured as the quake crumpled houses, destroyed roads, and sparked a fire at a nuclear plant that produces more power than any other facility of its kind.
A second, stronger quake of magnitude 6.8 hit the Sea of Japan around midnight.
Tsunami-warning sirens blasted along the Sea of Japan coast, but the warnings were later lifted.
In October 2004 Niigata was hit by a quake of similar magnitude which killed 65 people and injured more than 3,000. Japan, where a tremor occurs about every five minutes, is one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries.
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Photograph by Str/AFP/Getty Images