Source: Agencies16 Apr 2016 09:35:09

Tokyo, April 16: Suffering another natural calamity on Saturday, a powerful earthquake struck in the Kumamoto Prefecture of Japan at about 1:25 a.m which was recorded 7.3 on ritcher scale on midnight. The quake which killed at least six people had epicenter in the prefecture.

The quake occurred at a depth of 12 kilometers and a tsunami warning was issued but lifted about 50 minutes later. Strong aftershocks have continued to rattle the region. According to Chief Cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga, there had been reports of 53 cases of people being trapped inside buildings and 23 cases of people being buried under the wreckage.

Earlier on Thursday, a strong jolt was felt throughout the area, which had been hit by a magnitude-6.5 quake. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, an upper 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 was felt in Chuo Ward, Kumamoto, and Kikuchi, Kumamoto Prefecture on Saturday. Upper 5 was recorded in Kurume, Fukuoka Prefecture, and lower 5 in Minami Ward, Fukuoka. A total of 15 people have been killed in both the natural attacks while 80 seriously wounded with around 1500 injured and 6900 have been evacuated. 

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The powerful quake of Thursday night, killed at least nine people and injuring more than 780, the Kumamoto prefectural disaster response headquarters said Friday. The headquarters confirmed that the magnitude-6.5 quake killed eight people in Mashiki, and one in Kumamoto in the prefecture. The quake registered a maximum 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7.

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As of 1 p.m. Friday, 784 people had been injured, including nine in Saga and two other neighboring prefectures, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency of the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry. Fifty-three people were seriously injured.

In Kumamoto Prefecture, about 15,200 people had taken refuge at 399 emergency evacuation sites. The Japan Meteorological Agency named the earthquake the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake on Friday. Kumamoto Gov. Ikuo Kabashima asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to designate the quake as a devastating disaster.

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Frequent aftershocks have occurred, significantly affecting lifelines such as electricity and gas, as well as the Kyushu Shinkansen line and other transportation systems. About 1,700 Self-Defense Forces personnel, about 1,920 police officers and about 2,937 firefighters from within and outside the prefecture were engaged in rescue operations. The police rescued about 60 people in disaster-hit areas, including Mashiki, where the quake measured 7 on the seismic intensity scale.

As of 1 p.m. Friday, there were power outages at about 11,400 households in Kumamoto Prefecture. Saibugas Co. has suspended the gas supply to 1,123 households in Minami Ward, Kumamoto. The water was shut off at about 25,000 households in the prefecture, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said. A total of 380 kindergartens, primary and middle schools in the prefecture were closed, as their windows were broken and wall surfaces were damaged.

According to Kyushu Railway Co., operation of the Kyushu Shinkansen line was suspended from the first train on Friday. At about 9:26 p.m. on Thursday, a six-car out-of-service train on the Kyushu Shinkansen line derailed between Kumamoto Station and the company’s rolling stock depot in Kumamoto. The train appeared to have derailed while running at about 80 kph.

According to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, it was the fourth derailment of a Shinkansen train in Japan’s history. Near Shintamana Station, one Shinkansen train was stopped on the inbound line and another was stopped on the outbound line. Both were still there as of 1 p.m. on Friday.

There were no injuries among the combined total of about 100 passengers on the trains, who evacuated to the station on foot. On the Kyushu Expressway, the about 140-kilometer section between the Nankan Interchange and the Ebino Interchange was closed for both the inbound and outbound lanes. There was a 30-meter-long crack in the outbound lane between the Mashiki Kumamoto Airport Interchange, which is near the epicenter of the quake, and Kashima Junction.