Japan quake kills at least nine, 860 injured

Japan quake kills at least nine, 860 injured

Friday, April 15, 2016 7:44 am

Houses burnt in Japan earthquake

Houses burn in Japan earthquake

Japanese government  this morning counted  the losses of the overnight  6.5-magnitude quake  that struck the southwestern island of Kyushu on Thursday , leaving lumps of broken concrete strewn in the streets.

Officials at the local Kumamoto disaster agency   confirmed nine dead, and  at least 860 people  injured,  53 seriously.

Houses collapsed,  roads buckled, factories stopped work and a high-speed train was de-railed, while the roof of the treasured Kumamoto castle in the southern city of the same name was also damaged. The quake also sparked fires.

“There was a ka-boom and the whole house shook violently sideways,” Takahiko Morita, a resident of nearby town Mashiki, said in a telephone interview with public broadcaster NHK.

Rescue workers rifle through fallen houses looking for trapped people

Rescue workers rifle through fallen houses looking for trapped people

“Furniture and bookshelves fell down, and books were all over the floor.”

Dozens of aftershocks followed the quake, which hit about 9:26 pm (1226 GMT) on Thursday evening, and officials warned the death toll could rise as rescuers scoured the collapsed structures.

As rescue workers toiled through the night, an eight-month-old baby girl was pulled from the rubble alive and unharmed, NHK reported.

“As far as we can tell from infrared images from a police helicopter, there appears to be a significant number of houses destroyed or half-collapsed,” said disaster minister Taro Kono.

“There are fears the number of injured could rise.”

A damaged house

A damaged house

Rescuers are concentrating their searches in Mashiki, a town near the epicentre of the quake where the most deaths have been recorded.

On the streets, the remains of collapsed Japanese-style houses — many of them aged, wooden structures — could be seen, and damaged roof tiles lay in piles.

Scores of people spent the night huddled in front of the town hall, some in tears, while others wrapped themselves in blankets to ward off the nighttime chill.

“I’m so scared of the aftershocks that I cannot sleep,” 94-year-old Tomiko Takahashi told Jiji Press.

A shop attendant clears broken wine bottles in Kumamoto

A shop attendant clears broken wine bottles in Kumamoto


“We are combing through Mashiki where the damage was serious to see if there are any people who are still seeking rescue,” said government spokesman Yoshihide Suga.

Gen Aoki, a Japan Meteorological Agency seismologist, urged residents to be on guard for more aftershocks and warned rain in coming days could make the situation worse.

“Please do not go near damaged houses and structures that are about to collapse,” he said at an early morning briefing.

About 57,000 households in Kumamoto prefecture have been left without water, according to local government figures.

Nuclear plants in the region were unaffected, but several major manufacturers including Honda, Bridgestone, and Sony said they had suspended operations at factories in the area.

Train services on Kyushu were temporarily halted after Thursday’s earthquake and a super fast bullet train derailed — luckily while it was empty — said Yusuke Nanri, a spokesman for operator JR Kyushu.


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