TOKYO — A powerful magnitude-6.5 quake has hit Japan’s south-western island of Kyushu, collapsing homes, sparking fires, leaving at least nine people dead and injuring hundreds, government officials say, as the scramble continues to rescue people feared trapped in the rubble.
Tens of thousands of people reportedly fled their homes and television footage showed damaged buildings, buckled roads and lumps of broken concrete in the streets.
The Kyodo news agency said some 44,400 people had been evacuated and more than 100 aftershocks had been recorded since the quake.
The Government said it had confirmed at least 761 people had been injured, at least 44 seriously.
Some 1,600 military personnel were joined by nearly 2,000 police officers and more than 1,300 firefighters to help in the search and rescue efforts, Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said.
As the death toll rose during the night, an eight-month-old baby girl was pulled from the rubble alive and unharmed, NHK reported.
“As far as we can tell from infrared images from a police helicopter, there appears to be a significant number of houses destroyed or half-collapsed,” Disaster Minister Taro Kono said.
“There are fears the number of injured could rise.”
The quake struck at 9:26pm (local time) in Kumamoto at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometres, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, adding there was no danger of a tsunami.
“I felt quite strong jolts, which I had never experienced before,” Shunsuke Sakuragi, a prefectural official in Kumamoto, said.
“People were shocked but I have not seen any extreme confusion in the city.
“We also received information indicating a few people were under collapsed houses.”
Hours after the main earthquake another tremor measuring magnitude 6.4 hit the same region just after midnight on Friday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
The US Geological Survey measured the first quake at 6.2, and put the second quake at 5.4 — another smaller aftershock followed.
Aftershocks were likely to continue for about a week, it said.
Japanese media reported that some 16,000 households in the area were without electricity and 38,000 homes had no gas supplies in Kumamoto.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe convened an emergency response meeting of emergency officials at his office to plot a response.
“We are doing everything to avoid a second disaster because of aftershocks, and to offer the necessary help to those affected,” he told reporters on Friday morning.
Jiji media reported that bullet train services were halted on the island, while NHK said one of the trains had derailed though it was not carrying passengers at the time.
Bir Hospital to get new surgery building
KATHMANDU— The oldest hospital of the country, Bir Hospital, is in the process of getting a separate well-equipped building for surgery within the next two years.
The proposed nine-storey building will have 15 operation theaters.
The new building will have a post-operative ward; a 40-bed surgical ward; an Intensive Care Union (ICU); and a library as well. The new infrastructure will also have the facilities friendly to the senior citizens, disabled and the visitors, the National Academy of Medical Sciences (NAMS) says.
It is estimated to cost Rs 3.85 billion to complete the construction in two years. It is being constructed in an area of the old building of the NAMS nursing college which collapsed in the 2015 April earthquake. The building construction was inaugurated by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on March 9.
The hospital that had started its services in 1947 BS with 15 beds has now 450 beds. The NAMS operates Nursing, MBBS, MD classes and training as well.
The post of NAMS Chancellor has been lying vacant since the past five months. As shared by an employee, the delay in appointing the chancellor has caused inconveniences to the operation of hospital regular activities.
Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Population, Dr Sushilnath Pyakurel, said the recommendations have been already made before the minister to make appointments in the posts lying vacant in various health academies.
Similarly, infrastructures are being developed to upgrade the hospital by adding extra services including a helipad service for the first time from the government level.
The hospital has started its service from its branch at Duwakot of Bhaktapur from October 10 as part of its service expansion in line with the policy of the Ministry of Health.
The Duwakot branch provides OPD and surgery at present. OPD service starts from 9 am to 5 pm. The NAMS has permitted the construction of well equipped physical infrastructure for the hospital branch to provide international standard service, said the Hospital’s Director Prof Dr Bhupendra Basnet.
The Ministry of Health has allocated Rs 300 million as per the master plan of the NAMS and provided approximately 570 ropanis of land for the construction of physical infrastructures for the hospital branch.
“Necessary human resources including a medical officer, nurses and assistant health workers have been managed for the hospital branch. Medical equipment and other workforce that includes specialist doctors will also be managed as per need,” said Basnet.Follow @gorkhapost