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Friday, 15th April 2016
In General Japan News,

6.4-magnitude earthquake hits southern Japan

A mass evacuation has taken place in southern Japan after the region was hit by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake on Thursday (April 14th).

Some 44,000 people left the town of Mashiki, after the quake caused buildings to collapse and infrastructure to be damaged.

Aftershocks have already begun in the region and officials are monitoring nearby volcanoes for any sign of activity.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has highlighted the danger of strong aftershocks, which are likely to continue for around a week.

So far, nine people have been confirmed dead and 850 injured.

The epicentre of the quake on Kyushu Island is a highly volcanic area and a level two warning on Mount Aso has been in place since November 2015.

This means people should not approach the crater as there is a chance it could suddenly show signs of life.

Around 120 aftershocks have been felt since the earthquake hit, with more than 15 registering as a three or higher on the Japanese intensity scale.

Yoko Marume, who is coordinating efforts at the Mashiki gymnastics centre, told the Guardian: “We had about 200 overnight, but now, I would say there are about 500.

“People have been gathering here from across the city, it’s a big space. Most are shaken, many believe that their houses could fall down.”

Japan’s Defense Forces have already been dispatched to assess the situation in the area, with troops on the ground in the mountainous region of Kumamoto Prefecture.

They are looking at the damage that has been caused to properties and roads in order to put a plan of action in place.

Bread and water was delivered to many evacuees in the early hours of Friday morning and those at the gymnastics centre had also received emergency lunch boxes.

Alastair Donnelly, director of Inside Asia Tours, said: "The earthquake in Kyushu was the worst experienced in that region for many years and it is very sad indeed to hear that some local people have lost their lives. As always it was reassuring to see that in the areas worst affected the standard procedures of evacuation to school halls and other public facilities worked well although many people had to spend an uncomfortable night on gymnasium floors.

"Fortunately the badly affected area is quite small. The transport infrastructure will be back to normal in the next couple of days whilst hotels closest to the epicentre are carrying out the required structural checks to allow guests to return. In line with advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, we consider the area to be safe to travel to although visitors should be sure to familiarise themselves with what to do in the event of another earthquake"