A race against time in Japan

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By Catherine Hardy  with Reuters
A race against time in Japan
  • Dozens feared trapped
  • 250,000 in temporary shelters
  • Transport network paralysed
  • Cost of damage could run into billions

What is the latest?

The search for survivors from twin earthquakes in Japan is becoming more desperate.

Rescuers are searching for dozens of people feared trapped or buried alive.

Some are using their bare hands to dig through rubble.

How many rescue workers are there?

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he is boosting the number to 25,000.

They are being sent from all over Japan.

Abe has also accepted a US offer of help with air transport.

Is the rescue operation difficult?


Heavy rain means there are concerns about landslides.

There have also been hundreds of aftershocks.

The widespread damage and fear of another earthquake means thousands of people have taken refuge in temporary shelters.

  • 422,000 homes are without water
  • 100,000 homes are without electricity
  • 240,000 people given evacuation orders across the region

Troops are setting up tents for evacuees. Water trucks are being sent to the area.

Survivors are queuing for supplies of food and water.

Has anyone been found alive?


Rescuers pulled 10 students out of a collapsed university apartment in the village of Minamiaso on Saturday.

Rescuers also pulled some elderly survivors out of the rubble of their retirement home in the town. Some were still in the pyjamas they were wearing when the earthquake struck.

What happened?

A 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck early on Saturday morning.

It was the second major tremor to hit Kumamoto province on the island of Kyushu in just over 24 hours.

The first, late on Thursday, killed nine people.

How many people died in the second earthquake?

Japan’s National Police Agency says 32 people have been confirmed dead so far.

190 of the 1000 injured are said to be in a serious condition.

Will the disaster affect the region’s economy?

It is too early to say, according to experts.

  • Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda says bank operations in Kumamoto are normal.
  • 72% chance of economic damage exceeding 10bn US dollars – US Geological Survey
  • Major insurers yet to release estimates
  • Smartphone image sensor plant closed – Sony
  • Air, road and rail networks severely damaged

What they are saying

“In Minamiaso, where the damage is concentrated, there may still be people trapped under collapsed buildings, so we are focusing our attention and rescue and search efforts in this area” – Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

“It is full in there. There is not an inch to sleep or even walk about in there. It is impossible in there.” – a resident of Mashiki town outside a temporary shelter.