Japan hit by 6.5 earthquake; nine dead, hundreds injured

A strong 6.5 earthquake has recently hit southwestern Japan, killing at least nine and injuring hundreds.

According to reports, eight of the nine people who were killed in the earthquake were from Mashiki, about 15km east of Kumamoto city on Kyushu island, the town that was hit the hardest.

The earthquake started at around 9:26pm on Thursday near Ueki.

Dozens of houses reportedly collapsed. According to Kyushu Electric Power Co. Saibu Gas Co., the power was cut at nearly 15,000 houses.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that there’s been no new request for rescue, but the government is checking every district “individually and thoroughly in the town of Mashiki where damage is severe,”

“As far as we can tell from infra-red images from a police helicopter, there appears to be a significant number of houses destroyed or half-collapsed,”disaster minister Taro Kono told reporters. “There are fears the number of injured could rise.”

Reports say that there will be about 100 aftershocks. There was no reported risk of tsunami, as the earthquake was centered mostly on land. and not the ocean.

“When you have a shallow earthquake, such as this one is, you have the potential for more damage because the shaking is close to the surface,” said John Bellini of the U.S. Geological Survey.

This one was the first earthquake in Kyushu to measure 7 on the  Japanese seismic intensity scale (it was measured at 7).