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Powerful earthquake strikes Japan

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  • Six people dead, at least 144 injured after earthquake hits Japan
  • U.S. Geological Survey reports 7.2 magnitude quake on Japanese island of Honshu
  • Quake struck at around 8:43 a.m. Saturday

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TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Six people were killed and at least 144 hurt Saturday morning when a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck northeastern Japan, Japanese officials said.

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A boy stands outside a Kurikoma, Japan, home that was heavily damaged by Saturday's earthquake.

Another eight people were missing, fire officials said.

Several landslides covered roads, some highways buckled, a few bridges collapsed and bullet trains stopped, but two nuclear power plants in the region were not affected, officials said.

The quake, which hit at 8:43 a.m. (7:43 p.m. ET Friday), was centered 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Sendai, Japan, in southern Iwate Prefecture, the Japanese Meteorological Agency said. Several strong aftershocks followed, it said.

Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said one man was killed when he was buried in a landslide in Fukushima Prefecture and the other was struck by a truck when he rushed out of his house in Iwate.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda sent priority orders for rescue operations, Machimura said.

Local governments, fire departments and police were working to gather damage reports.

The Iwate government office said it had received reports that eight children and a teacher were injured by breaking windows at a preschool and that the earthquake produced landslides in some areas.

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The Miyagi fire department said there had been some injuries caused by falling furniture, and some bus passengers were injured when the vehicle bounced on a bridge. Two houses collapsed, the fire department said. Video Watch images of quake aftermath »

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East Japan Railway suspended Shinkansen bullet trains in the Tohoku region, and many other train lines in the region suspended operation as well. Expressways in Miyagi were also closed.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said that operations at nuclear power plants in Fukushima were not affected, Japan's national Kyodo News Agency said.

CNN's Junko Ogura and Yoko Wakatsuki contributed to this report.

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