Shaken residents of a southern Japanese island rocked by a powerful earthquake that left at least nine dead queued for water in rubble-strewn streets Friday
Shaken residents of a southern Japanese island rocked by a powerful earthquake that left at least nine dead queued for water in rubble-strewn streets Friday, with many facing a second night of uncertainty away from their ruined homes.
Rescuers continued to search through damaged buildings for possible survivors after the violent quake that also injured hundreds, although officials said the death toll was unlikely to rise significantly.
Tens of thousands of people fled their homes after the 6.5-magnitude quake struck the southwestern island of Kyushu on Thursday night, leaving lumps of concrete strewn in the streets.
Houses collapsed, factories stopped work and a high-speed train was derailed, while the roof of the treasured Kumamoto castle in the southern city of the same name was also damaged.
"We tried our best to take all our belongings and go to a shelter by car," said Haruki Ito, 62, whose house tilted 45 degrees after the quake.
"Our dogs got so scared and hid themselves inside the collapsed house," he told AFP, adding he hoped he and his wife could stay in a local shelter with their pets
Dozens of aftershocks followed the quake, which hit about 9:26 pm (1226 GMT) on Thursday evening, and officials warned the death toll could still rise as rescuers scoured the collapsed structures.
As rescue workers toiled through the night hours after the quake struck, an eight-month-old baby girl was pulled from the rubble alive and unharmed.
"As far as we can tell from infrared images from a police helicopter, there appears to be a significant number of houses destroyed or half-collapsed," said disaster minister Taro Kono.
Rescuers were concentrating their searches in Mashiki, near the epicentre of the quake where eight of the nine deaths occurred.
On the streets, the remains of collapsed Japanese-style houses -- many of then aged, wooden structures -- could be seen, and damaged roof tiles lay in piles.
A rescue team with several search dogs patrolled around half-collapsed houses in the town but no new deaths had been announced for more than 14 hours.
Scores of people spent the night huddled in front of Mashiki's town hall, some in tears, while others wrapped themselves in blankets to ward off the night chill.