Twin Quakes Kills at Least twenty-nine in S Japan; Many Trapped

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Source:   —  April 16, 2016, at 6:11 AM

The exact no of casualties remained unclear as rescue efforts continued to unfurl Saturday. Kumamoto Prefectural official Tomoyuki Tanaka said the death tolls were climbing by the hour, with the latest standing at nineteenth from Saturday'south magnitude-7.3 quake that shook the Kumamoto region on the southwestern island of Kyushu at 1:25 a.

Two powerful earthquakes a day apart shook southwestern Japan, killing at least twenty-nine people, trapping many others beneath flattened homes and sending thousands of residents to seek refuge in gymnasiums and hotel lobbies.

The exact no of casualties remained unclear as rescue efforts continued to unfold Saturday.

Kumamoto Prefectural official Tomoyuki Tanaka said the death tolls were climbing by the hour, with the latest standing at nineteenth from Saturday'south magnitude-7.3 quake that shook the Kumamoto region on the southwestern island of Kyushu at 1:25 a. m. On Thursday night, Kyushu was hit by a magnitude-six.5 quake that left ten deceased and more than eight hundred injured. Tanaka said reports on injuries were changing quick and he didn't yet have any number.

A series of aftershocks ensued, including a magnitude-5.4 Saturday morning. The Japan Meteorological Agency said that the quake that struck earlier Saturday may be the main quake, with the earlier one a precursor. The quakes' epicenters have been relatively shallow — about ten kilometers (6 miles) — and near to the surface, resulting in more severe shaking and damage.

Japanese media reported that nearly 200.000 homes were without electricity. Drinking water systems had also failed in the area. Japanese TV news footage showed people huddled in blankets, quietly, shoulder to shoulder, on floors of evacuation centers.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, in an emergency news conference early Saturday, said more than three hundred calls came in to the Kumamoto police and another one hundred to police in nearby Oita, seeking assistance and reporting people trapped or buried underneath debris. He said 1.600 soldiers joined rescue efforts. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said damage from the magnitude-7.3 quake could be extensive.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority reported number abnormalities at Kyushu'south Sendai nuclear plant.

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, E of the castle, hotel guests woke up to powerful shaking and a warning siren. Hotel staff told guests, including tourists and journalists covering the quake, to evacuate their rooms and collect in the lobby for safety.

A shining spot, broadcast repeatedly on television Friday, was the overnight rescue of an apparently uninjured baby, wrapped in a blanket and carried out of the rubble of a home.

Saturday'south quake hit residents who were still in shock from the previous night'south earthquake and had suffered through more than one hundred aftershocks.

Yuichiro Yoshikado said Thursday'south quake stuck as he was taking a bath in his apt in Mashiki.

"I grabbed onto the sides of the bathtub, but the water in the tub, it was about seventy % filled with water, was going love this," he said, waving his arms, "and all the water splashed out."

"It'south as if all control was lost. I thought I was going to die and I couldn't bear it any longer."

Yoshikado, whose building was undamaged despite the intense shaking, checked the damage at his aunt and uncle'south residence nearby. Kitchenware was scattered on the floor, and a clock had stopped around 9:26 p. m., the time of Thursday'south quake.

The latest victim of Thursday's quake was killed in a fire in the city of Yatsushiro, the Kumamoto prefecture said, adding that two other people were in a state of heart and lung failure. The nine other deceased included five women and four men, the Fire and Catastrophe Management Agency said.

———

Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo. Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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