Over 200 aftershocks have hit Japan following the initial Thursday tremor of 6.5-magnitude, which hit the city of Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu. Officials have warned that the risk of further strong aftershocks will linger for about a week.
Only 24 hours later the same areas was struck by a violent 7.1-magnitude earthquake. The Japan Meteorological Agency briefly issued tsunami warnings for the areas that were still recovering from Thursday’s devastating tremors.
At least nine people were killed and more than 850 injured in the first quake. The death toll in the second has risen to 29. All in all, 1,500 people have been injured in the quakes, 80 of them seriously, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. He added that about 70,000 have left their homes.
“We are aware of multiple locations where people have been buried alive,” Suga said. “Police, firefighters and Self Defense Force personnel are doing all they can to rescue them.”
The death toll in the earthquakes may be climbing by the hour, Kumamoto Prefectural official Tomoyuki Tanaka said.
About 170,000 households were without electricity and 385,000 without water following the powerful quakes.
Yuichiro Yoshikado described his experience during Thursday’s earthquake to AP. He was in the bathroom at the time.
“I grabbed onto the sides of the bathtub, but the water in the tub, it was about 70 percent filled with water, was going like this,” he said, waving his arms, “and all the water splashed out.”
“I thought I was going to die and I couldn’t bear it any longer,” he added.
Among 29 casualties are two students from Tokai University.
“We offer our sincerest prayers for the two,” said a University statement. “We’re trying to confirm the safety of other students.”
The quakes triggered massive landslides, which cut off roads and destroyed bridges, local media reported, adding that they imperiled rescue and relief efforts.
230 aftershocks hit Japan in 48hrs The latest big aftershock came hours after the second deadly earthquake and measured magnitude 5.3.
Japan has suffered more than 230 aftershocks of at least level 1 on the Japanese scale since Thursday’s earthquake, Japan’s meteorological agency said.
“We have already seen several in the mid to upper 5 plus magnitude range, and over the next several days and weeks, we would not be surprised to see more earthquakes of this size,” said John Bellini, a geophysicist with the USGS, as cited by Reuters.
Local residents are still in shock over the earthquakes and the following tremors.