Japan (HRNW): At least nine people have died and more than 250 are injured after a powerful earthquake hit southern Japan, toppling buildings and cutting power supplies. Officials say more people could be trapped under collapsed buildings.Thousands fled their homes and many people spent the night in the open in the town of Mashiki, near Kumamoto city on the island of Kyushu.
Troops have been sent to the scene but rescue operations are being disrupted by aftershocks, officials said.
No tsunami warning was issued after the magnitude 6.4 quake struck at 21:26 on Thursday (12:26 GMT) east of Kumamoto.
The quake struck at a depth of 10km (six miles) and was followed by aftershocks measuring 5.7 about 40 minutes later and 6.4 just after midnight local time.
But Japan’s seismology office recorded the shaking at some places to be as intense as the huge magnitude nine earthquake that hit the country in 2011.
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.
“The shaking was so violent I couldn’t stand still,” Hironobu Kosaki, a local police official, told the Associated Press news agency.
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.