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Massive Earthquake Strikes Japan, Houses Collapse, 2 Dead

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A large 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Japan, killing at least two people, destroying buildings and causing power outages.

According to officials there could be more people trapped under buildings that collapsed

BBC News reports:

About 16,000 homes were left without electricity and 38,000 without gas, reports say.

No tsunami warning was issued after the magnitude 6.4 quake, which struck at 21:26 (12:26 GMT) east of Kumamoto city, on the island of Kyushu.earthquake

Nuclear reactors on the island are not reported to have been affected.

The two Sendai nuclear reactors on Kyushu were operating as normal while the three Genkai nuclear reactors still in operation were already closed for routine inspection.

Footage from an NHK bureau in the area showed books, files and papers raining down to the floor. One employee appeared to have fallen off a chair, while others slid under their desks to protect their heads.

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The quake struck at a depth of 10km (6.2 miles) and was followed by aftershocks measuring 5.7 about 40 minutes later and 6.4 just after midnight local time.

Earthquake Bigger In Some Places

But Japan’s seismology office recorded the shaking at some places to be as intense as the huge magnitude 9 earthquake that hit the country in 2011.

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That triggered a tsunami in a double disaster that left more than 18,000 people dead or missing and led to meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

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“The shaking was so violent I couldn’t stand still,” Hironobu Kosaki, a local police official, told the Associated Press news agency.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at least 19 houses had collapsed and officials were still assessing the extent of the damage.

Japanese media gave a death toll of between two and three. Reports say 45 people were treated at a hospital in Kumamoto city, with at least five seriously injured.

At least two deaths occurred in the town of Mashiki, where the shaking was most severe. The town lies 15km (nine miles) east of Kumamoto.

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One victim died after being pulled out from under rubble and another was killed in a fire, Kumamoto prefecture disaster management official Takayuki Matsushita was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

Mashiki residents said houses and walls had collapsed and the water supply had been cut off.

An official in the nearby city of Uki said houses there had also collapsed as well as part of the city hall’s ceiling.

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The BBC’s Japan Correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes says the quake took place at a time when most people were at home.

Some train services were suspended as a precautionary measure.

Japan is regularly struck by earthquakes but stringent building codes mean that damage usually does not occur.

Royce Christyn
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