Two strong earthquakes, the first magnitude 6.9 and the second magnitude 7.3, rattled western Japan within hours of each other Sunday night, injuring 14 people, shaking buildings in Tokyo and triggering tsunamis.
Damage and injuries appeared to be limited because both quakes were centered far off Japan's coast, and the region shaken most strongly by them was Wakayama, a sparsely populated rural area about 280 miles southwest of Tokyo.
But tall buildings in Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya shook, while buildings swayed in Tokyo.
The first quake struck shortly after 7 p.m., centering 70 miles off the Kii Peninsula and six miles beneath the ocean floor. The Kyodo news agency reported that five were hurt in the first temblor.
The second temblor struck about five hours later, centering about 80 miles off the coast of Kochi prefecture and also six miles below the seabed. The NHK television network reported that nine people were injured.
Tsunamis -- waves triggered by seismic activity -- were recorded along the Pacific coast, the largest being three feet high.
The Meteorological Agency issued new tsunami warnings after the second quake, prompting several coastal towns in Mie prefecture to issue evacuation orders, NHK reported.
NHK quoted Katsuyuki Abe, a professor at the University of Tokyo, as saying that the first quake was likely a precursor to the second.
"It is important for us to closely observe the seismic activity in the area off the Kii Peninsula," Masahiro Yamamoto, manager of the earthquake and tsunami section of the Meteorological Agency, said at a televised news conference. "We need to analyze the movements of the earth's crust. This will take some time."
High-speed train service was suspended for about 10 minutes, Kyodo reported. Local commuter lines serving western Japan were also temporarily halted, the news agency said.
Most of the injured suffered broken bones or bruises from falling or from being hit by objects, news reports said.
The Meteorological Agency initially said the first quake had a magnitude of 6.8, but later revised it to 6.9.
Japan, which rests atop several tectonic plates, is among the world's most earthquake-prone countries.
A magnitude-7 quake is capable of causing widespread, heavy damage.
In 1995, a magnitude-7.2 quake in the western port city of Kobe killed at least 6,400 people.