Strong Earthquake Shakes Southern Japan - REPORT

A powerful 6.4-magnitude earthquake shook southern Japan Thursday. The extent of the damage is still unknown, but Japan's Meteorological Agency said there was no danger of a tsunami. The quake struck at 9:26 p.m. local time near the prefecture of Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu — the most southwesterly of Japan's four main islands.

Japan Today reported that there were aftershocks. At least one measuring in at a 5.7 magnitude — the scale goes up to 7 — struck about 40 minutes later. Kasumi Nakamura, an official from Nishihara, a village near the epicenter, spoke with Japanese national broadcaster NHK. He said that the quake lasted about 30 seconds and grew in intensity. "Papers, files, flower vases and everything fell on the floor," he told NHK in a phone interview. Video footage of the local TV bureau showed a signboard hanging from the ceiling shaking violently.

Officials at Kyushu Electric said there were no problems at its nuclear power plants in Sendai or Genkai , which are located on the same island, Reuters reported. Keisukei Urata, an official in another town near the epicenter, Uki city, said that he was driving home when the quake struck. He saw walls around homes collapsed and parts of the ceiling of the City Hall had fallen down.