Response teams in Fiji have been put on tsunami alert as Japan was struck by a second major earthquake yesterday. The death toll from both quakes has now risen to at least eighteen, and troops are searching for people feared trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings
A second, more severe earthquake struck southern Japan in the early hours of Saturday morning. It came as aid workers and troops were searching for survivors of a magnitude 6.4 quake that occurred on Thursday evening.
This latest shock measured 7.3 on the Richter scale, and the number of dead has now doubled to an estimated eighteen, and is expected to climb further. It has triggered the collapse of a dam, and caused volcanic activity at Mt Aso. However, Japan’s nuclear authority said the Sendai nuclear plant was not damaged, and an earlier tsunami warning has now been stood down.
20,000 troops have been deployed across the Kyushu region, roads have been damaged, and serious landslides have been reported. Around 200,000 households are now without power, and heavy rains bring fears of mudslides.
Disaster relief agency ShelterBox is monitoring the situation, in the wake of recent quakes over the last week in Myanmar, Afghanistan and the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. All this seismic activity across Asia and the Pacific has put the area on heightened tsunami watch. ShelterBox currently has teams in Fiji responding to two cyclones that have flattened buildings and drawn an international aid response.
ShelterBox Operations Team Lead James Luxton says, ‘There has been no request by the Japanese government yet for international support. If it does come ShelterBox has response teams on standby, and aid prepositioned across SE Asia, Australia and New Zealand, so we are ready to act rapidly.’
‘The US and UK governments have also offered support directly to the Japanese government, so we will see if any is accepted at that level. There is considerable seismic activity currently in the region, but fortunately none of these events has yet resulted in a tsunami. There was a tsunami advisory warning associated with the latest quake, but this has since been lifted.’
‘We monitor the tsunami prediction services to ensure we know as early as possible if there is any tsunami risk. Our teams in Fiji are selecting accommodation which is elevated from sea level to mitigate against this risk to themselves.’
Most of those who died in Thursday’s quake were in the town of Mashiki where more than 1,000 people were injured. Around 40,000 people initially fled their homes, with many spending the night outdoors. This morning’s quake happened as more than 130 aftershocks from the first earthquake had rocked the area.
ShelterBox was one of the major aid responders to Japan’s earthquake and tsunami in 2011, distributing over 1,500 ShelterBoxes and 10,000 sets of winter clothing. 11 March 2016 marked the fifth anniversary of that event, which claimed 19,000 lives.