Strong 6.5 quake hits Japan

Tokyo—A powerful 6.5-magnitude earthquake hit Japan’s southwestern island of Kyushu on Thursday, collapsing homes, sparking fires and leaving three person dead, media and government said, as officials scrambled to assess the extent of the damage.
At least 12 people were injured and 19 houses collapsed in Kumamoto prefecture on Kyushu, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesman, announced, adding that 350 military personnel had been dispatched for rescue work.
Broadcaster NHK reported that three people were killed, though there was no official confirmation, adding more may be trapped in rubble. Bullet train services were halted on the island, media said.
Hours later another powerful quake measuring magnitude 6.4 hit the same region just after midnight local time on Friday, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
The initial quake was the first of more than a dozen to rock the region in one of the most earthquake prone countries in the world.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe convened an emergency response meeting of emergency officials at his office to plot a response.
Cameras showed violent shaking in the city of Kumamoto at the time of the first earthquake, which was felt throughout Kyushu.
Japan’s two sole operating nuclear reactors, located on Kyushu, were functioning normally, an official at the Sendai plant operated by Kyushu Electric Power told AFP, though he said technicians were checking for damage.—AFP

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