More than 20 people have died and hundreds have been injured in Japan’s deadliest earthquake in nine years. Powerful aftershocks continue to shake the north of the country a day after the initial quake struck with a magnitude of 6.8 on the Richter scale. Worst hit was the prefecture of Niigata, a rural, rice-growing region around 250 kilometres north of the capital Tokyo. The quake follows a typhoon which killed 80 people last week.
Many terrified residents huddled under blankets in schools and other temporary shelters. Around 67,000 people have been evacuated.
Some people spent the night outside in temperatures of around 5 degrees Celsius, not daring to return to their homes for fear of aftershocks and landslides. Officials say there is a desperate need for blankets, food and water. Soldiers and emergency workers have set up distribution centres.
It is the country’s worst earthquake since Kobe in 1995, which left more than 6,000 people dead.