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.
PM congratulates Nepali national cricket team
KATHMANDU— Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has congratulated Nepali national cricket team for being able to clinch the International T20 series.
PM Oli in a tweet extended best wishes and congratulations saying he was very happy to know Nepal’s win over the UAE by 14 runs in the third match of the series.
Winning T20 series is another landmark success for Nepali cricket, he said, adding, “It is big achievement for Nepal’s cricket. I would like to heartily congratulate entire members of Nepali cricket squad”.