An earthquake with preliminary magnitude of 6.8 jolted central Japan on Saturday evening, trapping at least five people when their homes collapsed, public broadcaster NHK said.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said no tsunami warning was issued after the quake, which was felt in the capital Tokyo 180 km (110 miles) away.
NHK said that at least five people were trapped in houses that collapsed in the village of Hakuba, a ski resort in Nagano prefecture, but one had been rescued and efforts were being made to reach the others. There were also reports that at least 10 other people were injured.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters an advanced party of Japan’s military had been sent to the area, and others were on standby.
High-speed trains were halted but later resumed service, Kyodo news agency reported.
There were no signs of irregularities at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear plant, a spokesman for the utility said, adding checks were still being made at the facility, where all reactors are currently off-line.
NHK quoted an official in the village of Ogawa near the epicenter as saying there was a long tremor and documents fell off shelves.
“On the second floor of our house, the tremor was too strong to stand,” said Sakiko Hagiwara, an NHK employee in the area.
“Pictures fell off the wall,” she said, adding there were no cracks in the walls.
NHK also said there was a report of a landslide blocking roads near Hakuba.
Japan, situated on the “Ring of Fire” arc of volcanoes and oceanic trenches that partly encircles the Pacific Basin, accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.
On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck under the ocean off the coast of the northern city of Sendai. The quake triggered a massive tsunami that devastated a wide swathe of the Pacific coastline and killed nearly 20,000. It also devastated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, causing meltdowns in the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.