7.3 magnitude earthquake at a depth of 10 km rocks area hit by the 14 April earthquake. Rescuers searching for people trapped under rubble. At least 200 thousand households without electricity. Msgr. Kikuchi: Planning assistance for those affected.
Tokyo (AsiaNews) – The death toll from another powerful earthquake in south-east of Japan is 18 people. The quake rocked the same area that just one day before had suffered a previous earthquake causing nine victims. Are at least 20 thousand soldiers stationed in the island of Kyushu are engaged in disaster relief. Experts say the quake that struck at 1.25 in the morning was of magnitude 7.3 with its epicenter just off the city of Kumamoto – where the first quake struck on April 14, causing nine victims – at a depth of about 10 km.
Msgr. Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, Bishop of Niigata and President of Caritas Asia, says another "strong earthquake" has rocked Kumamoto. "This time - says the prelate - the damage caused by the earthquake affected an area far greater than that on April 14".
"According to preliminary information - continues the President of Caritas Asia – this time 15 people lost their lives [but the toll has already risen to 18] and there are at least one thousand injured".
This second earthquake, continues Msgr. Kikuchi, "has affected a much larger area, including the nearby prefecture of Ohita". At two o'clock this afternoon the bishop of Fukuoka Msgr. Miyahara called a meeting with the leaders of the diocese to discuss "the plan of aid to those affected." Caritas Japan, concludes the Bishop of Niigata, "will study the results of the meeting in Fukuoka" to decide “the next steps to take."
Meanwhile, rescuers are involved in the search for survivors. Local sources speak of dozens of people trapped in the rubble of buildings that collapsed overnight because of the earthquake. At least 200 thousand families are currently without power; experts are also concerned by the weather, for fear that the strong incoming rains could cause new landslides.
Tomoyuki Tanaka, an official in Kumamoto Prefecture, reports that the death toll will increase as the hours pass and is set to worsen. Thousands of people spent the night on the streets and in the parks, outdoors, in the fear of new tremors.
Meanwhile, the heads of the Japanese nuclear power plants have ensured that the Sendai plant was not damaged. A small eruption was instead registered at Mount Aso, the largest active volcano in the Land of the Rising Sun, as a result of the earthquake.
In the hours following the earthquake of April 14, the authorities placed the two nuclear reactors on the island of Kyushu under observation, but they do know if the facilities have not been damaged. The focus remains on the power plant, in fear of any new accidents.
Memories of the Fukushima disaster are still alive. The nuclear power plant was damaged by the 2011 earthquake that left 18 thousand dead and generated a tsunami that swept the structure.
Japan is one of the most active seismic areas in the world, with 205 of the total of the earthquakes that occur every year of magnitude 6 or greater. On average, the seismometers record activities, however slight, every five minutes. This is why the buildings in the country are among those built with the best seismic criteria and the authorities have created, over time, an effective warning system.