Adver reporter caught in deadly Japan quake

Local officials also issued a warning against spreading fake news online after a tweet claiming a zebra was on the loose after the quake went viral.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that the government has placed its "top priority on saving people's lives".

The Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported at least 234 people were injured, on Monday morning.

Television images showed buildings swaying and burst pipes spewing water after the quake, which struck at the height of rush hour in the city of around two million people.

Quakes are common in Japan, part of the seismically active "Ring of Fire" that stretches from the South Pacific through Indonesia and Japan, across to Alaska and down the west coast of North, Central and South America.

A strong natural disaster knocked over walls and set off scattered fires around the city of Osaka in western Japan on Monday morning.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has updated the magnitude of the quake to 6.1, stronger than the initial 5.9 magnitude. A magnitude 4.6 quake struck Gunma prefecture - north of Tokyo - on Sunday, while a magnitude 4.5 tremor hit Chiba - east of Tokyo - on Saturday.

Dozens of flights were grounded and trains were halted, although some resumed operation by Monday evening. Osaka-based Panasonic said it was halting production at two of its plants - one that produces lighting devices and another for projectors.

Honda Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors said they were resuming operations after suspensions and safety checks.

The natural disaster reminded numerous magnitude 7.3 Kobe quake in 1995 that killed more than 6,000 people in the region.

A nine-year-old girl was killed after becoming trapped by a damaged wall in a swimming pool facility at her school in Takatsuki city, north of Osaka city. Another man in his 80s was killed when a bookcase fell on him.

"It was only slight at first, then after a few seconds everything shifted from side to side and I realised I was experiencing an natural disaster". Kyodo News said the victim was an 81-year-old woman who died after a wardrobe fell on her at home. "I woke up in the middle of the night and the whole room was shaking".

Kilpatrick, visiting Japan for the first time from the United States, said alarms went off nearly immediately in the hotel and a loudspeaker told guests to stay away from windows.

The government officially reported that 307 people were injured in the natural disaster, but national broadcaster NHK reported that the number of injured was at least 350.

The shinkansen bullet train service remains halted due to the quake as at 11.30am local time, while the Hanshin Expressway that connects Osaka to the neighbouring Kyoto and Kobe cities is also closed. Passengers exited trains on the tracks between stations.

However, the 6.1 magnitude quake did not trigger a tsunami warning and nuclear plants in the area are operating normally.

Kansai Electric Power said no irregularities had been detected at the Mihama, Takahama and Ohi nuclear plants after the quake.

  • Joey Payne