Friday, April 15, 2016

Rescuers search for survivors after deadly Japan quake

Shaken residents of a southern Japanese island rocked by a powerful earthquake that left at least nine dead queued for water in rubble-strewn streets Friday, with many facing a second night of uncertainty away from their ruined homes.
Rescuers search for survivors after deadly Japan quake
An eight-month-old baby is carried away by rescue workers after being rescued from her collapsed home caused by an earthquake in Mashiki town, Kumamoto prefecture, southern Japan, in this photo taken by Mainichi Shimbun April 15, 2016 early morning.

 Rescuers continued to search through damaged buildings for possible survivors after the violent quake that also injured hundreds, although officials said the death toll was unlikely to rise significantly.

Tens of thousands of people fled their homes after the 6.5-magnitude quake struck the southwestern island of Kyushu on Thursday night, leaving lumps of concrete strewn in the streets.

Houses collapsed, factories stopped work and a high-speed train was derailed, while the roof of the treasured Kumamoto castle in the southern city of the same name was also damaged.

"We tried our best to take all our belongings and go to a shelter by car," said Haruki Ito, 62, whose house tilted 45 degrees after the quake.

"Our dogs got so scared and hid themselves inside the collapsed house," he told AFP, adding he hoped he and his wife could stay in a local shelter with their pets

Dozens of aftershocks followed the quake, which hit about 9:26 pm (1226 GMT) on Thursday evening, and officials warned the death toll could still rise as rescuers scoured the collapsed structures.

As rescue workers toiled through the night hours after the quake struck, an eight-month-old baby girl was pulled from the rubble alive and unharmed.

"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," said disaster minister Taro Kono.

Rescuers were concentrating their searches in Mashiki, near the epicentre of the quake where eight of the nine deaths occurred.

On the streets, the remains of collapsed Japanese-style houses -- many of then aged, wooden structures -- could be seen, and damaged roof tiles lay in piles.

A rescue team with several search dogs patrolled around half-collapsed houses in the town but no new deaths had been announced for more than 14 hours.

Scores of people spent the night huddled in front of Mashiki's town hall, some in tears, while others wrapped themselves in blankets to ward off the night chill.

By Friday afternoon, the government said it had confirmed that 881 people were injured, at least 52 seriously. An official from the local Kumamoto disaster agency said at least nine were dead.

But Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a regular press conference that the death toll was unlikely to sharply increase, but that search operations were continuing just to make sure.

He added that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to visit Kumamoto on Saturday to meet victims.

Culled from
Photo Credit: Reuters

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