The massive magnitude 7.3 earthquake that struck Japan this afternoon, the strongest since the devastating quake of 2011, took place at night local time, and as such there was little available media coverage. As Japan wakes up, much of the destruction becomes apparent.
As Reuters reports, the quake has killed at least one person, injuring hundreds and bringing down buildings, citing media reported, just over a day after a quake killed nine people in the same region. The Japan Meteorological Agency initially said the Saturday quake was 7.1 magnitude but later revised it up to 7.3.
The authorities warned of damage over a wide area, as reports came in of people being trapped in collapsed buildings, fires and power outages. Residents living near a dam were told to leave because of fears it might crumble, broadcaster NHK said.
Saturday’s tremblor triggered a tsunami advisory, although it was later lifted and no irregularities were reported at three nuclear power plants in the area, a senior government official said. People still reeling from Thursday’s shock poured onto the streets after the Saturday quake.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority said no abnormalities were found at the Sendai nuclear plant, where the only two of Japan’s 43 reactors are online. NHK video showed stones tumbled from the walls of historic Kumamoto Castle, and a wooden structure in the complex was smashed, adding to damage from Thursday’s quake.
Kyodo news agency said one person was confirmed dead. NHK reported that nearly 400 people were being treated in hospitals, but that figure included “people who don’t feel well”, so it was not clear how many serious injuries there were. Media reported fresh damage, including collapsed buildings and roads. A fire erupted in a what appeared to be an apartment building in Yatsushiro city, while some people were trapped in a nursing home in the town of Mashiki, according to NHK.
The epicenter of the quake was near the city of Kumamoto and measured at a shallow depth of 10 km, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The entire city of 730,000 was without power.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, arriving at his office, told reporters the government was making every effort to determine the extent of the damage, carry out rescue and recovery, and to get accurate information to citizens.
“There is a great possibly that the damage will spread widely so we must give it our all to gather the information on the damage situation and make the rescues and relief. We would also make sure to relay the situation to the people. Those were my orders for now.”
The earthquake on Thursday evening in the same region was of 6.4 magnitude and experts said the two tectonic events could be linked. “Thursday’s quake might have been a foreshock of this one,” Shinji Toda, a professor at Tohoku University, told NHK.
Several aftershocks rattled the region later on Saturday, including two of nearly 6 magnitude, and the Meteorological Agency warned of more.
Television footage showed many frightened people wrapped in blankets sitting outside their homes.
“We are making every effort to respond to this quake,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters. He confirmed there were no problems at any of the three nuclear power plants in the region.
A magnitude 9 quake in March 2011, to the north of Tokyo, touched off a massive tsunami and nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima. Nearly 20,000 people were killed in the tsunami.
Here is an early photo of a collapsed building:
A land avalanche was caught by Japanese media.
Finally, a live webcast from the local TBS News: