- Title: JAPAN: Japan earthquake death toll rises to nine, hundreds more injured
- Date: 15th June 2008
- Summary: NEWSPAPER SHOWING PICTURE OF LANDSLIDE
- Embargoed: 30th June 2008 13:00
- Location: Japan
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVAECT2MTQO1PMLU9E9WOCFH5T57
- Story Text: Japan's earthquake death toll rises to nine with hundreds more injured while rescuers struggle to work their way through narrow mountain paths to reach devastated areas.
More than 1,000 rescue workers including troops searched on Sunday (June 15) for 13 people missing after a powerful earthquake rocked northern Japan, killing at least nine and injuring over 200.
The 7.2 magnitude quake struck on Saturday (June 14) morning in the prefectures of Miyagi and Iwate, a sparsely populated, scenic region around 300 km (190 miles) north of Tokyo, where buildings also shook.
Mountains were carved away by the force of the quake, trees crashed into newly slashed ravines, roads were cut off by landslides, and bridges buckled and broke.
More than 260 aftershocks had jolted the area by Sunday morning, and officials warned there could be strong quakes to come.
Efforts to find seven people believed trapped in a hot spring resort swamped by a massive landslide resumed early on Sunday morning.
Rescue workers picked their way through debris while scores of others, including soldiers, began carefully crossing a river of mud covered with makeshift wooden boards to get to the two-story inn, whose first floor had completely collapsed.
Several hours later, the rescuers recovered three bodies from the crushed inn, a local government official said, adding that the search would continue for those unaccounted for.
Rescuers struggled to work their way through narrow mountain paths to reach devastated sites. Some had to leave the area for security concerns.
At one landslide site in Kurihara, Miyagi prefecture, rescuers were forced to abandon efforts to pull out a man trapped in a landslide due to water leaking from an underground source.
"We can no longer maintain our safety here due to water leaking from an underground source. It's more of a technical decision we made,"
said one rescuer, who evacuated from the landslide.
About 300 people spent the night in evacuation centres and some 340 households were without electricity, officials in Miyagi and Iwate prefecture said. More than 2,800 homes were without water as of Saturday evening, the officials said.
"Even if I go back to my house, I cannot even get in," 83 year-old evacuee Kaoko Sugawara told Reuters. "There's no gas, no electricity. Everything in my house is broken," she added.
Some 100 people were cut off in remote areas after roads were blocked by landslides, the officials said.
Many others, however, had returned home after spending the night in the make-shift evacuation centres.
As is often the case when natural disasters strike rural Japan, many of those affected were elderly, some living alone.
Experts said the scope of the quake was far smaller than the one that hit China a month ago and the region's sparse population and Japan's stricter building codes had also limited the damage.
Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world's most seismically active areas. The country accounts for about 20 percent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.
In October 2004, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck the Niigata region in northern Japan, killing 65 people and injuring more than 3,000. That was the deadliest quake since a magnitude 7.3 tremor hit the city of Kobe in 1995, killing more than 6,400.
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