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Japan quakes kill 41 people

dpadpa 16/04/2016

There are 41 people confirmed dead in Japan's earthquakes and more aftershocks predicted in the quake zone on the island of Kyushu.

Rescue workers boosted their search for survivors after two large earthquakes struck southern Japan, killing 41 people and injuring thousands.

Reports of further possible survivors and victims have come from various parts of the quake zone on the island of Kyushu.

Eight people were unaccounted for in Minamiaso village in Kumamoto prefecture, where the quakes triggered a large landslide, local police officials said.

Japanese media reported on Saturday that dozens of older people may be trapped in a nursing facility in Mashiki, a town of 33,000 which was the hardest hit by the first tremor on Thursday evening. The reports have not been confirmed.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga spoke the same day of nearly 100 cases of people trapped and buried.

Tens of thousands of residents were lining up for relief supplies as they evacuated their homes in the prefectures of Kumamoto and Oita.

Across Kumamoto, the quakes cut off water supply to about 320,000 households and about 76,000 households suffered power outages, broadcaster NHK reported.

Gen Aoki, director of the earthquake and tsunami department of the meteorological agency, warned of mudslides after heavy rain pounded the region overnight.

More than 400 aftershocks have rattled Kyushu since the first big tremor with a magnitude of 6.5 in Kumamoto on Thursday evening, followed by a magnitude 7.3 earthquake that struck the same region early on Saturday, according to the Meteorological Agency.

The agency predicted more aftershocks on the island in the coming days.

The quakes prompted the closure of some highways on the island and the suspension of some train services, including high-speed bullet trains.

Airline companies cancelled their flights to and from Kumamoto Airport after a ceiling collapsed at the building.

Defence Minister Gen Nakatani said late on Saturday that the number of troops dispatched to the region would rise to 25,000 - with thousands already on site.

The government said there were no abnormalities at four nearby nuclear power stations.

The two major quakes were the largest since the earthquake and ensuing tsunami in northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, which prompted the shutting down of all of its workable reactors in the months that followed.

Those twin natural disasters left about 18,500 people dead and caused a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

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