Crews in Japan search for earthquake survivors

by Leigh Jones
Posted 4/16/16, 08:40 am

Rescue crews in Japan are scrambling to find about 100 people thought trapped in rubble from two earthquakes that rattled the southwestern island of Kyushu about 24 hours apart.

The first quake, a magnitude 6.5, struck Thursday night and left 10 people dead. The second, much bigger, magnitude 7.3 quake rattled the region early Saturday. So far, 22 people have died following the second quake, but that number could rise. About 1,500 people suffered injuries during both temblors. 

The quakes’ shallow depth, unusual for the region, intensified the shaking and the damage. But they didn’t produce any tsunamis. About 200 buildings, including homes, were damaged or destroyed. Nearly 200,000 homes are without electricity and 400,000 without running water. About 91,000 residents had to be evacuated.

Rescuers are working against the clock: Severe storms are expected in the area this weekend. Officials fear heavy rain and strong winds will intensify damage and create new problems in the form of landslides and flash flooding.

In the midst of the quake recovery efforts, Kyushu island's Mount Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan, erupted, spewing smoke hundreds of feet in the air. The eruption, the first in a month, did not cause any damage, and experts aren’t sure whether it was linked to the quakes.

One of the island’s most historic sites, the Aso Shrine, suffered serious damage from the shaking, which collapsed buildings and toppled a towering gate. But the area’s nuclear plant escaped damage and was operating as normal, according to the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is the news editor for The World and Everything in It and reports on education for WORLD Digital.

Read more from this writer