Earthquakes, volcano eruption rock Japan as 1500 injured, 29 dead

Published: Apr. 16, 2016 at 12:23 AM EDT
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The Latest on earthquakes in Japan (all times local):

12:40 p.m.

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga says 1,500 people have been injured, 80 of them seriously, in twin earthquakes on southern Kyushu island.

Suga did not mention the death toll, which local officials put at 29, saying the numbers are likely to rise.

He says the military will be boosted to 20,000 for rescue efforts. Police and firefighters are also being ordered to the southwestern region.

In a nationally televised news conference, Suga asked people not to panic.

He says: "Please let's help each other and stay calm."


12:30 p.m.

Japanese media are reporting the eruption of Mount Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan located on Kyushu island where twin earthquakes killed at least 29 people, buried houses and set off landslides.

That's the first eruption in a month.

Smoke is rising about 100 meters (328 feet) in the air, but no damage has been reported.

It's not immediately clear if there's a link the seismic activity and the eruption.

Aso is 1,592 meters (5,223 feet) high and consists of five peaks. It's about 1 ½ hour drive from Kumamoto Prefecture, the epicenter of the quakes.


12 noon

A Japanese official says the death toll in the second earthquake to hit southern Kyushu island early Saturday has risen to 19.

That's in addition to 10 people killed in Thursday's magnitude-6.5 quake.


10:10 a.m.

A fresh earthquake measuring 5.4 has hit southern Kyushu island on Saturday morning, following a 7.3-magnitude quake that killed at least six people overnight.

Kumamoto Prefectural official Tomoyuki Tanaka says the death toll is still unclear, with the fire department reporting a higher number of at least seven.

More than 400 people are reported injured.

Japanese TV news footage showed collapsed and flattened houses, and said people are trapped in buildings.

The Japan Meteorological Agency gave a preliminary reading of magnitude-7.3 for the temblor that struck early Saturday. A magnitude-6.5 quake struck late Thursday, killing 10 people. Aftershocks are rattling various areas in Kyushu, one of Japan's main four islands.


9:50 a.m.

Police in southern Japan say the second earthquake that struck the same region in 24 hours has killed at least six people.

The magnitude-7.3 quake shook the Kumamoto region at 1:25 a.m. Saturday. On Thursday night, the area was hit by a magnitude-6.5 quake that left 10 dead and more than 800 injured.

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