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Search for survivors begins after earthquake shakes southern Japan

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By Catherine Hardy with Reuters
Search for survivors begins after earthquake shakes southern Japan
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  • At least nine dead
  • Hundreds injured
  • No damage to nuclear plants reported
  • 3000 emergency workers sent to area – Abe

The news

The search has begun for survivors who may be trapped in buildings toppled by a major earthquake in southern Japan.

Our first priority is the safety of residents

At least nine people have been killed in the town of Mashiki near Kumamoto city on the island of Kyushu.

Almost 1,000 have been injured.

More than 44,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and have spent the night in schools and community centres.

Strong aftershocks are continuing to shake the area around the city of Kumamoto in the wake of the 6.0 magnitude tremor.

Nuclear concerns

No problems have been reported at nuclear plants in the area.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority says there are no irregularities at three nuclear plants on the major southern island of Kyushu and nearby Shikoku.

The magnitude was much lower than the March 2011 earthquake that set off a tsunami and led to nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima.

However, the intensity was similar as it struck on land and the epicentre was at a much shallower depth.

Infrastructure affected

Service on the Shinkansen superfast train service in Kyushu was halted after one train was derailed.

Highways have been closed after some sections collapsed.

Around 12,300 households have been left without electricity.

The Honda Motor Company suspended output at its motorcycle factory near Kumamoto.

Sony Corp, Mitsubishi Electric Corp and tyre manufacturer Bridgestone Corp also suspended operations at their factories in the area.

In tweets

What they are saying

“Our house was destroyed but we are all so, so that is what counts,” – a Kumamoto resident.

“We will do everything in our power to ensure the safety of local residents” – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says more than 3,000 troops, police and firefighters have been despatched to the region.