Another powerful earthquake measuring 7.3 on the richter scale struck southwest Japan on Friday night. At least 32 people have been killed and many others are feared trapped.
The second quake came after Thursday’s earthquake which again was powerful as it measured 6.5 on richter scale and claimed 10 lives and left over 800 people injured.
Rescue efforts are on in full swing as the jolt flattened homes, sending thousands of residents to seek refuge in gymnasiums and hotel lobbies.
Friday night’s quake struck Kumamoto region on the southwestern island of Kyushu at 1:25 am. Earlier too Kyushu was hit by a 6.5 magnitude quake.
Officials say the death toll is rising by the hour. After the quake last night, a series of aftershocks have hit the region. An aftershock measuring 5.4 on the richter scale was recorded earlier this morning.
The Japan Meteorological Agency has said that the quake that struck on Friday night may be the main quake, with the earlier one just being a precursor.
The quakes’ epicenters have been relatively shallow, just about 10 kilometres below 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 together in blankets on the floors of the evacuation centres.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said 1600 soldiers had joined the rescue efforts.
Public broadcaster NHK TV showed stones tumbled from the walls of historic Kumamoto Castle, and a wooden structure in the complex was smashed.
However, the Nuclear Regulation Authority reported no abnormalities at Kyushu’s Sendai nuclear plant.
Friday’s quake hit residents who were still in shock from the previous night’s earthquake and had suffered through more than 100 aftershocks.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said damage from the magnitude-7.3 quake could be extensive.
(With inputs from agencies)