No tsunami warning

(From agencies)

Japan’s Meteorological Agency says a more powerful earthquake hit southern Japan’s Kumamoto Prefecture early Saturday about 24 hours after a quake hit the region yesterday.

Japanese reports say the quake had an estimated magnitude of 7.3. The tremblor hit Aso City, northeast of Mashiki. Aso is the site of Mt. Aso, Japan’s largest active volcano.

The government agency said today’s earthquake was the main event or “honshin” and that the one on April 14 was merely a prelude or “zenshin.”

Yesterday’s quake in the Kumamoto area killed nine people and caused extensive damage.

While it wasn’t immediately clear whether more had died Saturday, Japanese broadcaster NHK said a number of calls were coming in from residents reporting people being trapped inside houses and buildings. Video showed a resident, apparently rescued from underneath a collapsed house, on a stretcher being taken to a hospital by ambulance.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency temporarily issued an advisory for a tsunami up to 1 meter high along the coast west of the epicenter in Kumamoto; the advisory was lifted less than an hour later.

Sirens of patrol vehicles were heard on the background as NHK reported from the hardest-hit town of Mashiki. The asphalt outside the town hall had a new crack, apparently made by the latest earthquake.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority said no abnormalities were found at the Sendai nuclear plant, where the only two of Japan’s 43 operable reactors are online. NHK video showed that stones tumbled from the walls of historic Kumamoto Castle, and a wooden structure in the complex was smashing, adding to damage Thursday at the site.

See NHK video

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