- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 5, 2006

FROM COMBINED DISPATCHES

TOKYO

A strong earthquake of magnitude 5.9 shook northeastern Japan Friday, followed by at least three strong aftershocks.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. The main quake struck at 1:37 p.m. It was centered about 20 miles below the seabed, off the coast about 80 miles northeast of Tokyo, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said.

It was followed by two aftershocks of magnitude 5.0 within three minutes of each other, the Japanese Meteorological Agency said. A magnitude 5.3 aftershock followed at 3:10 p.m.

The temblors came the same day that the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced that it will use the equivalent of $81.6 million from the supplementary budget for fiscal 2005 mainly to help rebuild condominiums that were built on false earthquake-resistance data and are vulnerable to major temblors.

The total includes $27.7 million to be allocated to the Tokyo metropolitan government and $16.8 million to the Kanagawa prefectural government. In Tokyo and Kanagawa prefecture, 10 defective condos are to be demolished and rebuilt.

The ministry will also spend $21.9 million to finance work by local authorities to check quake-resistance capabilities of condominiums in 21 prefectures in response to growing concern among condo owners about their apartments’ anti-quake capacity, the officials said.

The ministry will give $8.4 million to the Urban Renaissance Agency, a state-run property developer, to help finance its inspections of buildings’ quake-resistance capabilities.

The land ministry will also provide $10 million to the Japan Building Disaster Prevention Association, a ministry-linked organization formed by architects’ groups and construction business bodies, to help it conduct a quake-resistance survey of 500 condominiums to be picked at random from across the country.

The association will complete the survey by March 31, 2007, after picking the condos from among those built within the past five years.

The government has moved to support condo owners since the revelations last November of a number of quake-susceptible condos and budget hotels built on fabricated quake-resistance data.

The land ministry said the quake-resistance data of 97 buildings in 18 prefectures was fabricated by disqualified architect Hidetsugu Aneha.

On Friday, the Diet passed the extra budget for fiscal 2005 that ends this March 31

Less than four months ago, an earthquake in Pakistani Kashmir and adjoining North West Frontier Province killed more than 87,000 people.

And this weekend, a strong magnitude 6.0 earthquake shook India’s Andaman Islands early on Saturday, the USGS said. There were no immediate reports of damage on the islands, which were hit badly by the December 2004 tsunami, which was triggered by a massive earthquake off the coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra island.

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