(Vatican Radio) At least nine people were killed and nearly 1,000 injured after a strong quake hit southwestern Japan, toppling houses and leaving thousands without power.
The magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck at 9:26 p.m local time on Thursday near the city of Kumamoto, on one of Japan’s four main islands. The hardest hit area was the town of Mashiki where eight alone were killed.
More than 44,000 people were evacuated to schools and community centres, some spending the night outside after the first quake hit.
Scientists from Japan's Meteorological Agency have warned "relatively strong" aftershocks are expected in the coming days which could cause landslides and more buildings to collapse.
Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said a number of homes had collapsed but also stressed that there were no reports of any irregularities at any of the country’s nuclear facilities.
More than 3,000 troops, police and firemen have been sent to the affected area, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said more would be sent if needed.
Japan suffered a major earthquake in 2011 which left 20,000 people dead and triggered and tsumani and a nuclear meltdown at its Fukushima power plant.
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