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Saturday 26 May 2018

Aftershocks rattle Japan as quakes death toll rises to 45

Yachiyo Fuchigami, 64, left, and her husband Koji, 62, feed their pet dog at the evacuation centre in Minamiaso. Yachio broke her arm when a bookshelf fell on her (AP)
Yachiyo Fuchigami, 64, left, and her husband Koji, 62, feed their pet dog at the evacuation centre in Minamiaso. Yachio broke her arm when a bookshelf fell on her (AP)
Hotel guests sit on the floor at the lobby in Mashiki after they evacuated their rooms (AP)
Hotel guests watch a TV news programme after they were evacuated from their rooms in Kumamoto (AP)
A hotel worker uses a loudspeaker to call out names of hotel guests in Mashiki (AP)

Japan's southern quake-hit area has been rattled by a strong aftershock and searchers have found a woman's body buried under landslide rubble, raising the death toll from the twin earthquakes to 45.

More than 100,000 evacuees, some sleeping in their cars and others in gyms or community centres, were bracing for another chilly night.

Many people are afraid to stay in their homes as aftershocks continue to shake the area on the southern island of Kyushu, including a 5.5-magnitude quake on Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities were advising people staying in cars and shelters to move about to avoid developing deep-vein thrombosis, or blood clots that develop after being immobile for a long time.

Japanese media reported that a 51-year-old woman from Kumamoto had died on Monday from the condition.

At least 23 people have developed symptoms, Kyodo News service said. Saiseikai Kumamoto Hospital said it had diagnosed 10 cases, including two people in critical condition.

The area around Kumamoto was hit by two quakes within 28 hours of each other late on Thursday and early on Saturday, triggering landslides that have blocked roads. The fire and disaster management agency said nearly 1,200 houses had been destroyed.

Nine people died in the first, magnitude-6.4 earthquake, and at least 36 died in the second one, which registered 7.3 on the Richter scale. About 1,100 have been injured.

The hardest-hit towns are Mashiki, where 20 residents died, and Minamiaso, a remote mountain area where 11 died and the death toll is creeping up as soldiers and emergency workers use backhoes and spades to search for missing people.

Temperatures around Kumamoto city are forecast to fall to 8C (46F) overnight.

The earthquake damage and loss of power and water is reverberating beyond Kyushu as Toyota and other manufacturers have suspended production.

Several soldiers carried a woman's body down on a plastic tray covered with an olive-green tarpaulin on Tuesday morning as dozens of workers dug through where a mudslide slammed into buildings in Saturday's quake.

Food shortages and cuts to water services are plaguing the relief effort.

American military airlifts are helping to deliver water, bread, ready-to-eat food and other emergency supplies to remote areas. The US has about 50,000 troops stationed in Japan and the American military played a large role in rescue and relief in 2011 after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the north-eastern coast of the main island of Honshu.

Limited flights have resumed to Kumamoto Airport but outbound passenger flights remain almost entirely suspended because of severe damage to the terminal building.

Press Association

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