Second Japan earthquake takes toll to 41

At least 500 victims buried alive after 7.0 magnitude quake

Kumamoto: Scores of people were feared buried alive on Saturday after two powerful quakes hit southern Japan a day apart, killing at least 41 people, as a forecast storm threatened more devastating landslides.

Rescue workers save a victim from a collapsed building in Kuammoto. Pics/AFP
Rescue workers save a victim from a collapsed building in Kuammoto. Pics/AFP

"We are aware of multiple locations where people have been buried alive," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. More than 90,000 people have been evacuated, including 300 from an area near a dam thought to be at risk of collapse.

A hospital was left teetering by the 7.0 quake, with doctors and patients rushed from the building in darkness. At least 500 people were believed trapped in one settlement and expected to spend the night in public buildings, reports said.

A bridge is cut off by landslides in Minamiaso, Kumamoto prefecture
A bridge is cut off by landslides in Minamiaso, Kumamoto prefecture

The quake came as emergency responders were working to reach areas hit by a 6.2 magnitude tremor that struck late Thursday. Both quakes were very shallow and caused violent shaking. Aftershocks continued to rock Kumamoto on Kyushu island and its surroundings.

Thursday's initial quake killed nine people, but yesterday's brought newer structures crashing down. "The death toll rose to 41," Akira Ito, a spokesman at the Kumamoto prefectural government, said. Nearly 1,000 people have been hurt.

A rescue team member runs on a street cracked by the earthquake in Mashiki, Kumamoto prefecture
A rescue team member runs on a street cracked by the earthquake in Mashiki, Kumamoto prefecture

Tokai University announced that two students, who were among around a dozen trapped in a dormitory building in Minami-Aso.

At least one was killed when a fire ripped through an apartment in Yatsushiro.

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