Date
29 May 2017
Japanese soldiers conduct search and rescue operations at a collapsed house. Thirty-three people are dead after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck southern Japan on Saturday. Photo: Reuters
Japanese soldiers conduct search and rescue operations at a collapsed house. Thirty-three people are dead after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck southern Japan on Saturday. Photo: Reuters

Food crisis hits Japan quake victims as rescuers ramp up search

Rescuers are combing through rubble to search for people missing after a massive earthquake struck southern Japan on Saturday, a day after nine people died in another quake in the same area.

Reuters is reporting that 33 people are dead and more than one thousand injured in the 7.3 magnitude quake that devastated the Kyushu region.

Survivors spent a cold night in cramped shelters or camped out in fields as 30,000 rescue workers rushed to provide food and search for those still missing.

There was widespread damage to houses, roads and bridges, including at least one mountain highway severed in two, concrete tumbling into the valley below.

Factories for major manufacturers including Toyota, Sony and Honda were closed, causing supply chain disruptions around Japan.

Food was in short supply as roads remained cut off by landslides.

“Yesterday, I ate just one piece of tofu and a rice ball. That’s all,” said the mayor of one of the areas affected.

“What we’re most worried about now is food. There’s no electricity or water, either.”

Of more than 500 quakes that have hit Kyushu since Thursday, more than 70 have been at least a four on Japan’s intensity scale, strong enough to shake buildings.

In Ecuador, the country’s biggest earthquake in decades killed at least 235 people, caused devastation in coastal towns and left an unknown number trapped in ruins.

A 6.1 magnitude quake also struck southeast of the Pacific island nation of Tonga, with no immediate reports of damage.

Three nuclear plants in the southern Japanese region were unaffected by the quakes but the Nuclear Regulation Authority said it will hold an extraordinary meeting on Monday to discuss the disaster.

A massive 9 magnitude quake and tsunami in northern Japan in March 2011 caused the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986, shutting down the nuclear industry for safety checks and sending radiation spewing across the countryside.

Nearly 20,000 people were killed in the 2011 tsunami.

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