Injuries reported as new quake hits Japan

2016-04-16 06:59
A man reads news on the earthquake on his iPad, as he waits with evacuated residents in Kumamoto City. (Kauhiro Nogi, AFP)

A man reads news on the earthquake on his iPad, as he waits with evacuated residents in Kumamoto City. (Kauhiro Nogi, AFP)

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Kumamoto - A powerful earthquake hit southern Japan early on Saturday, authorities said, sending panicked residents from their homes and damaging buildings in a region where nerves were already frayed by a swarm of strong shaking.

The earthquake hit just over a day after another strong tremor in the same area killed nine people, injured hundreds and toppled buildings.

Public broadcaster NHK showed footage of rescuers carrying a victim on a stretcher from a collapsed house to an ambulance while they massaged the person's chest after Saturday's earthquake in the southwestern island of Kyushu.

NHK also said authorities were considering evacuating patients from a hospital in hard-hit Kumamoto city over fears it could collapse as a wave of aftershocks shook the area.

The hospital was slanted and soldiers were sent to the scene to assess the situation, according to reports.

Authorities warned residents that houses weakened by the quake could fall down, and NHK showed a partially collapsed apartment building in Kumamoto.

There were multiple reports of fresh injuries and damage, including a possible collapsed bridge in the city, which has borne the brunt of a swarm of strong quakes that have hit the region since Thursday's powerful earthquake.

Hisako Ogata, 61, evacuated to a nearby park with her daughter, where some 50 other people sat on blue plastic sheets.

"We left my house as we could not stay due to continuous jolts," Ogata told AFP.

"It was so scary," she added. "Thank God, we are still alive."

An AFP journalist in Kumamoto said he was jolted awake by powerful shaking, which sent the television set in his hotel room crashing to the floor. Staff urged guests to evacuate.

The quake, measured at magnitude 7.0 by the US Geological Survey, struck at 01:25 at a depth of 10km.

The Japan Meteorological Agency, which put the magnitude at a revised 7.3, initially issued a tsunami warning for the western coast of Kyushu, but later lifted it.

There were several reports of people being trapped under debris at various locations, and NHK showed images of rescue workers removing rubble from atop a collapsed house in an apparent search for anyone stuck underneath.

Other footage from the NHK bureau in Kumamoto showed objects falling off desks and shelves during the powerful shaking.

'Really strong'

Thursday night's quake killed nine people and injured nearly 900. That one was measured at magnitude 6.2 by USGS, and 6.5 by the Japanese agency.

Shotaro Sakamoto, a Kumamoto prefectural official, said Saturday's quake was comparable to Thursday's.

"The latest earthquake felt as strong as, or stronger than the original one," Sakamoto, told AFP.

"It was really strong... many people on the street appeared panicked."

The latest quake came as officials had said they did not expect the death toll from the first quake to rise.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was due to visit Kyushu later on Saturday, but Jiji Press reported his visit was cancelled.

"We are trying our best to assess the damage situation as it could spread," he told reporters early on Saturday.

Riho Tajima, an official at the Kumamoto disaster management office, said it had received unconfirmed information indicating one person was feared dead due to a collapse of a house.

"We are still in a tense situation as aftershocks are still rocking us continuously," she told AFP.

Read more on:    japan  |  earthquakes

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