AT least 32 people have been killed after twin earthquakes toppled buildings and triggered landslides in JApan.
The second magnitude-7.3 quake shook the Kumamoto region at 1.25am today (2.25am AEST).
On Thursday night, the area was hit by a magnitude-6.5 quake that left 10 dead and more than 800 injured.
Today’s tremor triggered a tsunami advisory, although it was later lifted and no irregularities were reported at three nuclear power plants in the area, a senior government official said.
People walk along a road destroyed by an earthquake in Kumamoto, Japan. Picture: Taro Karibe/Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
Japanese media reported that nearly 200,000 homes were without electricity. Drinking water systems had also failed in the area. Hundreds of people were reported injured, although some of the injuries were minor.
Hundreds of people are bracing for rainfall and strong winds that may set off more devastating mudslides.
Local stores quickly ran out of stock and shuttered their doors Saturday, and people said they were worried about running out of food.
An aerial view of a landslide in Mimami-Aso, Kumamoto prefecture. Picture: AFP/Japan’s Defence Ministry.Source:AFP
One massive landslide from Japan’s deadly earthquakes tore open a mountainside in Minamiaso village in Kunamato Prefecture all the way from the top to a highway below, destroying a key bridge that could cut off food and other relief transport to the worst hit area.
A trail of brown earth streamed down the hillside like a muddy river.
Another landslide gnawed at a highway, collapsing a house that fell down a ravine and smashed at the bottom. In another part of the village, houses were left hanging precariously at the edge of a huge hole cut open in the earth.
Houses are seen destroyed after an earthquake in Mashiki, Kumamoto prefecture, southern Japan. Picture: Ryosuke Uematsu/Kyodo News.Source:AP
Aso Shrine is destroyed by an earthquake in Aso, Kumamoto prefecture, southern Japan. Picture: Kyodo News.Source:AP
The epicentre of the quake was near the city of Kumamoto and measured at a shallow depth of 10km, the US Geological Survey said.
A series of aftershocks ensued, including a magnitude-5.4 this morning.
NHK reported at least 400 people treated in hospitals, but that figure included “people who don’t feel well”, so it was not clear how many serious injuries there were.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, in an emergency news conference early today, said more than 300 calls came in to the Kumamoto police and another 100 to police in nearby Oita, seeking help and reporting people trapped or buried underneath debris.
Parents cry as they confirm that their daughter was found dead after an earthquake in Mashiki, Kumamoto prefecture. Picture: Ryota Tajiri/Kyodo News.Source:AP
He said 1600 soldiers joined rescue efforts. Extra troops would be sent to help, with up to 15,000 due today, as well as more police, firefighters and medics, he said.
“We are making every effort to respond,” Suga said.
Troops fanned out to search ruined houses as dawn broke.
Residents living near a dam were told to leave because of fears it might crumble, broadcaster NHK said.
Rescuers and their dogs patrol past collapsed houses in Mashiki, Kumamoto prefecture.Source:AFP
Public broadcaster NHK TV showed stones tumbled from the walls of historic Kumamoto Castle, and a wooden structure in the complex was smashed.
At the Ark Hotel, east of the castle, hotel guests woke up to strong shaking and a warning siren. Hotel staff told guests, including tourists and journalists covering the quake, to evacuate their rooms and gather in the lobby for safety.
A severely damaged dentist office leans to one side following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Kumamoto, southern Japan. Picture: Koji Harada/Kyodo News.Source:AP
Items lie askew inside the Kyodo News Kumamoto bureau following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Kumamoto, southern Japan. Picture: Takuya Okamoto/Kyodo News.Source:AP
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, arriving at his office, told reporters the government was making every effort to determine the extent of the damage, carry out rescue and recovery, and to get accurate information to citizens.
“It’s possible that there may be damage over a wide area,” Abe said.
The region’s transport network suffered considerable damage with one tunnel caved in, a highway bridge damaged, roads blocked by landslips and train services halted, local media reported.
The stonewall of Kumamoto Castle is seen damaged after the earthquake in Kumamoto city, Japan. Picture: Kyodo News.Source:AP
Earlier NHK reported that waves of about one metre had reached the shore.
The broadcaster also showed aerial footage of a landslide in the village of Minami Aso where massive mud flows and huge rocks slid down a mountain into a valley, cutting off a highway and sweeping away houses and damaging buildings.
Meanwhile, a large fire that broke out at an apartment complex in Yatsushiro city killed one person, city official Kiichiro Terada said.
In Minamiaso, a village in Kumamoto, rescuers were working to find about 20 people who were trapped after their homes collapsed, NHK reported.
Rescue workers in the village were also continuing to hunt for students, apparently from nearby Tokai University, who were trapped when their apartment collapsed.
Medical staff prepare to evacuate patients from the hospital in Kumamoto City over fears it could collapse as a wave of aftershocks shake the area.Source:AFP
Rescue workers said voices could be heard and reports said about 30 people appeared to be trapped, Japan Times reports.
Authorities were evacuating patients from a hospital in hard-hit Kumamoto city over fears it could collapse after a wave of aftershocks shook the area.
NHK said a bridge in Kumamoto city had collapsed, though that could not be immediately confirmed.
Footage showed rescuers in the nearby town of Mashiki carrying a victim on a stretcher from a collapsed house to an ambulance while they massaged the person’s chest.
Authorities warned that houses weakened by the quake could fall down, while footage showed a partially collapsed apartment building in Kumamoto.
A road newly damaged by the 7.3 magnitude earthquake in Mashiki, Kumamoto, Japan.Source:Getty Images
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.