At least nine people died and 860 others were injured after a powerful earthquake jolted southwestern Japan on Thursday night, local police said Friday.
The magnitude-6.5 quake at 9:26 p.m. local time originated at a relatively shallow depth of around 11 kilometers in Kumamoto Prefecture and registered a maximum 7 on the Japanese scale in the town of Mashiki in the prefecture, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
According Kyodo, Among the injured, 53 were seriously hurt, while up to 44,400 people were taking shelter at about 500 sites in the prefecture, the prefectural government said.
Officials said, the quake struck at a depth of 11 kilometres near Kumamoto city on Kyushu island. The quake was followed by aftershocks measuring 5.7 about 40 minutes later, and 6.4 just after midnight local time. No tsunami warning was issued, and nuclear reactors on the island are not reported to have been affected.
However, a number of houses collapsed, and hundreds of calls came in reporting building damage and people buried under debris or trapped inside. Thousands of homes were left without electricity. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told media that the government has mobilized police, firefighters and self-defense troops for the rescue operation.
Photo courtesy Kyodo