updated 6/20/2005 1:31:54 AM ET 2005-06-20T05:31:54

A moderately strong earthquake rattled northern Japan on Monday, shaking buildings and spooking residents in an area where the country’s deadliest temblor in a decade struck last year. Two sizable quakes shook eastern Japan earlier in the day.

The magnitude-4.9 quake hit at 1:03 p.m. in Niigata state, the Meteorology Agency said. Its epicenter was estimated at a depth of 6 miles.

Police said there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

Nagaoka city official Tomohito Tanahashi said city hall shook for a few seconds but wasn’t strong enough to dislodge items from shelves or atop tables. He said officials had received no emergency calls.

Last October, a magnitude-6.8 quake in Niigata was Japan’s deadliest in a decade, killing 40 people and injuring more than 2,700.

String of quakes
Monday afternoon’s tremor followed two earlier quakes along the country’s eastern coast that swayed buildings in Tokyo.

Those quakes — measuring magnitudes 5.6 and 4.1 — occurred early Monday in Chiba state, to the east of Tokyo, at a depth of 31 miles. The strongest shaking was felt in the town of Hikari and Narita city, near Tokyo’s international airport, the Meteorology Agency said.

The agency said none of the quakes had led to a danger of tsunami, potentially killer waves triggered by seismic activity.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, a Chiba prefectural police official said.

Japan sits at the juncture of four tectonic plates, or moving slabs of the earth’s outer crust, and is one of the world’s most quake-prone countries. Its buildings, equipped to absorb shocks, are among the world’s most quake-safe.

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