Strong 5.9 quake jolts Japan disaster zone

TOKYO - A 5.9-magnitude earthquake shook northeast Japan Friday, jolting the area devastated by a quake and tsunami in March, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties and no tsunami warning.

The quake hit at 3:22 am (2:22am local time) at a depth of 38 kilometres (24 miles), with its epicentre 18 kilometres from Iwaki city in Fukushima prefecture, the United States Geological Survey said.

Fukushima has been the site of the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years since the March tsunami damaged an atomic plant there, which leaked radiation into the air, soil and sea, and forced thousands to leave their homes.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, operator of the crippled plant, said it had noticed no additional problems resulting from the latest quake, which also shook buildings in Tokyo.

The Japan Meteorological Agency measured the quake at 6.0 and its depth at 50 kilometres.

The tsunami generated by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake in March wiped out whole stretches of the country's northeast coast, leaving more than 20,000 people dead or missing.

Japan, located at the junction of four tectonic plates, experiences 20 percent of the strongest quakes recorded on Earth each year.