JAPAN: Massive Quake Destroys Homes, People Hurt and Possibly Trapped

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 11.07.35 AMKeep the people of Japan in your thoughts and prayers today as they deal with this devastating hit.

Rescuers in southern Japan were searching for trapped residents in at least two dozen collapsed houses after a powerful 6.5 earthquake struck Thursday evening with a force that knocked out power and water and swept people off their feet.

Japanese Red Cross Kumamoto Hospital said it has admitted or treated 45 people, including five with serious injuries.

The quake struck at 9:26 p.m. at a depth of 11 kilometers (7 miles) near Kumamoto city on the island of Kyushu, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. There was no tsunami risk.

“The shaking was so violent I couldn’t stand still,” said Hironobu Kosaki, a Kumamoto Prefectural Police night-duty official.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at least 19 houses collapsed, and hundreds of calls came in reporting building damage and people buried under debris or trapped inside.

“Because of the night darkness, the extent of damage is still unclear,” he said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that the government mobilized police, firefighters and self-defense troops for the rescue operation.

“We’ll carry out relief operation through the night,” he said.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said the damage and calls for help are concentrated in the town of Mashiki, 15 kilometers (9 miles) east of Kumamoto city and about 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

There are reports of at least three buildings collapsed in Mashiki alone, with five people believed buried underneath, the agency said.

“There was a ka-boom and the whole house shook violently sideways,” Takahiko Morita, a Mashiki resident said in a telephone interview with Japanese broadcaster NHK. “Furniture and bookshelves fell down, and books were all over the floor.”

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