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SHAKE AND BLOW
Mystery gold gifts for tsunami-wracked Japan port
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Feb 16, 2013


Earthquake strikes off New Zealand's North Island
Wellington (AFP) Feb 16, 2013 - A 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the North Island of New Zealand on Saturday, the US Geological Survey reported, but there were no reports of any damage.

The quake at 6:16pm (0516 GMT) was centred 204 kilometres (126 miles) deep and about 300 kilometres northeast of Auckland.

The tremor was not widely felt on the mainland and police said there were no immediate reports of damage or injury.

A shallow 6.3-magnitude quake devastated New Zealand's second largest city of Christchurch in February last year, leaving 185 people dead.

The sparsely populated country sits on the so-called "Ring of Fire", the boundary of the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, and experiences up to 15,000 tremors a year.

6.2 quake shakes Philippines' Mindanao
Manila (AFP) Feb 16, 2013 - A powerful 6.2-magnitude earthquake rocked the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on Saturday triggering panic, but there were no immediate reports of any damage or casualties.

The quake struck at 12:37 pm (0437 GMT), off the coast, about 30 kilometres (19 miles) northeast of the town of Sarangani, said the government seismology institute.

Residents said people rushed out of buildings in panic after the quake sent lighting fixtures swaying.

The government institute said it did not expect any damage or casualties and there was no risk of a tsunami.

The Philippines sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire -- a belt around the Pacific Ocean dotted by active volcanoes and tectonic trenches.

A 7.6-magnitude quake hit the country's east coast in August last year, triggering a tsunami alert that forced tens of thousands to flee their homes and causing a landslide that killed one person.

A Japanese city devastated by the 2011 tsunami has received anonymous gifts of gold worth more than $250,000 in a phenomenon dubbed a "goodwill gold rush" ahead of the second anniversary of the disaster.

The president of the company which operates the port in the northeastern city of Ishinomaki last week received a parcel containing two slabs of gold each weighing one kilogram (2.2 pounds).

"Since it was labelled as 'miscellaneous goods,' I casually opened the box," thinking it must be books or the like as it was heavy, said Kunio Sunow, president of the Ishinomaki Fish Market Co. Ltd.

"I was stunned because what's in there was 24k gold in two plates. One was wrapped in brown paper and the other in a page taken from a magazine -- both were sitting in bubble sheets," he told AFP by telephone on Saturday.

The parcel had been sent anonymously from Nagano city northwest of Tokyo with no message.

"Just looking at 24k gold can encourage people as it has a presence. It's great to know we haven't been forgotten," Sunow said, adding he had not yet decided how to use the gift.

Japanese media said a non-profit group in Ishinomaki that has been supporting its revival had also received two kilograms of gold bullion and at least one more group got more than one kilogram.

The gifts have mystified Japanese people, prompting the mass-circulation Asahi newspaper to call the phenomenon a "goodwill gold rush" in Ishinomaki.

The city, some 350 kilometres (220 miles) northeast of Tokyo, was devastated by the 9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami it generated on March 11, 2011.

The disaster killed nearly 19,000 people, including more than 3,000 in Ishinomaki, and sparked the world's worst nuclear accident in a generation.

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