Japan earthquake: Rescuers in ‘race against time’ as storm hits

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Update from BBC:

Rescuers are in a “race against time” to find survivors of a powerful earthquake amid forecasts of heavy rain and cold overnight, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has warned.

Mr Abe admitted rescue operations throughout the night in the Kyushu region “will be extremely difficult”.

Damage has been extensive - this road collapse was in Minami-Aso (Photo: AFP)
Damage has been extensive – this road collapse was in Minami-Aso (Photo: AFP)

At least 32 people have been killed and hundreds injured, with thousands forced to seek refuge outdoors and dozens still feared trapped beneath rubble.

A quake on Thursday killed nine people.

It’s raining, it’s cold and there’s no-one here: Mashiki is deserted.

It’s not safe to stay. Walk round for 30 seconds and you’ll see why – house after house has crumpled or shifted off its foundations. They are mostly single-storey or small apartment blocks. One has a crushed camper van partially holding it up. Another has a balcony that’s been forced forward and is now teetering dangerously over the road.

A handful of cars passed us, slowing to swerve around the roof tiles that lie shattered on the road after the front of one small house fell forward, like something out of a Charlie Chaplin movie. Inside you can see furniture, exposed by the earthquake. There’s a blue framed walking frame getting wet in the rain.

The earthquake triggered a massive landslide in the region (AFP PHOTO/DEFENCE MINISTRY/JIJI PRESS)
The earthquake triggered a massive landslide in the region (AFP PHOTO/DEFENCE MINISTRY/JIJI PRESS)

Both quakes were shallow and struck close to the city of Kumamoto, causing huge damage to roads, bridges, tunnels, homes and buildings.

Big landslides have cut off remote mountain villages.

Some 100,000 households remain without power while around 400,000 homes are without water.

Mr Abe told an emergency meeting on Saturday evening that the rain and winds had begun and “are expected to get stronger”.

Saturday’s magnitude-7.3 quake struck at 01:25 (15:25 GMT on Friday) at a depth of 10km (six miles) closet to the city of Kumamoto, which had already been hit by a magnitude-6.4 quake on Thursday night.

Nearly 2,000 people received hospital treatment. About 190 of the injured are in a serious condition, the government said.

There are many reports of people trapped inside buildings. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said rescue workers were aware of “multiple locations where people have been buried alive”.

One village had to be evacuated after a dam collapsed as a result of the quake.

Some 20,000 troops were deployed to help police and firefighters in the rescue effort.

They have also been helping some of the 92,000 people who have been forced to evacuate their homes.

Thousands of people spent the first night on the streets and in parks – where they were huddled under blankets looking dazed and afraid.

They were urged to seek shelter with the approaching storm. Tents were being set up and tarpaulins handed out, along with food and water.

 

 

 

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