04/15/2016, 10.32
JAPAN
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Powerful earthquake in Kumamoto: 9 dead and 860 injured

The 6.4 magnitude earthquake was recorded last night on the island of Kyushu. The most serious damage affected the city of Mashiki, where dozens of buildings collapsed. Approximately 44 thousand people were evacuated. The area belongs to the diocese of Fukuoka, no reports of damage to the churches. The aftershocks are ongoing and will continue at least for a week.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) - At least nine people are dead and 860 others injured in the strong 6.4 magnitude earthquake that rocked the prefecture of Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu in southern Japan last night. The most damage occurred in the city of Mashiki, where several buildings have collapsed. 38 thousand homes have been left without gas supplies and 16 thousand others have no electricity. Recovery operations are still ongoing and so far there has been no tsunami warning.

Msgr. Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, Bishop of Niigata and President of Caritas Asia says: "Caritas Japan is gathering information on the situation. Local churches, which belong to the diocese of Fukuoka, report no damage. The government and the authorities are committed to bringing relief, but most of our work will be in rebuilding after the disaster".

The strong earthquake took place yesterday evening at 09.26 (local time) at 11 km depth. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the fact that the epicenter was so close to the surface was the cause of major damage. More than 44 thousand people were evacuated from their homes; some of them have spent the night on the streets, others have been accommodated in 500 facilities.

The authorities have placed the two nuclear reactors on the island of Kyushu under observation, but they confirm that the facilities have not been damaged. 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.

This morning, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he had mobilized the police, firefighters and Self-Defense Forces to provide relief, medical care and food. Aftershocks are still being registered. General Aoki, Director of the Meteorological Agency has warned people: "Residents should pay attention to the shocks that could reach up to a magnitude of six and could continue at least for a week".

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