9 killed, over 1,000 injured in Japan quake

04/15/2016 9:01 PM
Kyodo News

An eight-month-old baby is carried by rescue workers from her collapsed home after an earthquake in Mashiki town, Kumamoto prefecture in southern Japan on April 15, 2016. Reuters/ Kumamoto Prefectural Police/Handout

TOKYO (UPDATED) - Nine people died and more than 1,000 others were injured by a powerful earthquake that jolted southwestern Japan overnight, with strong aftershocks continuing into Friday.

In the town of Mashiki in Kumamoto Prefecture, the hardest hit by the magnitude-6.5 quake, rescue workers were searching through the rubble to see if any more people are trapped there, according to local authorities.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said there had been 134 aftershocks by 3 p.m. Friday and warned that more aftershocks, including strong ones, could occur in coming days.

"With aftershocks still continuing and forecasts that the weather will get worse from tomorrow, I want you to do your best to minimize risks from a (potential) secondary disaster," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a meeting with Cabinet ministers involved in the government response.

Abe was referring to the need to provide evacuation sites for people whose homes are threatened by possible landslides as rain is expected from Saturday afternoon in areas where the ground may now be unstable.

The agency said the number of aftershocks already had been the third-highest since 1995.

Thursday's temblor at 9:26 p.m. was the first quake in Japan to measure a maximum 7 on the Japanese seismic scale since the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated vast areas of northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.

However, no tsunami warning was issued and no abnormalities have been detected at nuclear power plants in Kyushu, one of Japan's four main islands, where the quake occurred.

As of Friday afternoon, the number of people who were taking shelter totaled about 15,000 in 19 municipalities in Kumamoto Prefecture, down from 44,400 people as of 7:30 a.m., according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

Abe will inspect Mashiki and other hard-hit areas and meet with locals on Saturday, Suga said at a news conference.

Thursday's quake originated at a relatively shallow depth of around 11 kilometers in Kumamoto Prefecture, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Seismic experts said two fault zones -- one about 64 kilometers long and the other 81 km -- run near the epicenter, and that aftershocks have occurred along the zones.

According to the Kumamoto prefectural police, the nine dead are three men and four women aged between 54 and 94 in Mashiki, and a 29-year-old man and 68-year-old woman in Higashi Ward in Kumamoto city.

Eight of them were found beneath collapsed houses and the ninth person died after falling down at home.

Tiles fell from the roof of Kumamoto Castle in the center of Kumamoto city and part of the castle wall collapsed.

According to Suga, electric power will be stored to 11,700 households that lost power, and gas supply to 1,923 households, by Friday.

But it was not immediately known how soon water supply to 24,900 affected households will be resumed. At present, water wagons were being used to provide for those households.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Motoo Hayashi said Honda Motor Co., Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and Bridgestone Corp. had suspended operations at their plants in the quake-hit areas.

However, Hayashi said there have been no reports of serious damage to supply chains as seen after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disrupted parts supplies in the manufacturing industry.

Visit the Full Desktop Site

Copyright © 2016 ABS-CBN