A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.3 has struck southern Japan barely 24 hours after a smaller quake hit the same region and killed nine people.
Police on Saturday were reported as saying that at least six people had been killed. Authorities said hundreds of calls had come in from residents reporting people trapped inside houses and buildings on the island of Kyushu.
The fire and disaster management agency said 66 people were trapped inside a nursing home in Mashiki, the town hit hardest, and rescue efforts were under way.
The latest quake also appeared to have triggered a small eruption of the Mt Aso volcano on Kyushu. Public broadcaster NHK said smoke rose about 100 metres in the air. The Japanese Meteorological Agency kept its alert level at 2 on a scale of 5 for the volcano
More than 400 people were treated at hospitals after the quake, which shook the Kumamoto region at 1.25am local time on Saturday, followed by several aftershocks.
Japan’s meteorological agency issued but later lifted a temporary advisory for a tsunami of up to one metre high along the coast west of the epicentre. FULL REPORT