Aftershocks jolt japan after quakes kill 24
More strong aftershocks jolted central Japan after thousands spent a night in shelters following the country's deadliest quake in nearly a decade that left 24 people dead, officials said.
Forty-nine quakes struck in the early hours Monday in Niigata, a coastal area 200 kilometres (125 miles) northwest of Tokyo, with the biggest measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale at 6:05 am (2105 GMT Sunday).
Police said the death toll from the quakes rose Monday to 24 when a 54-year-old man died of apparent fatigue in a car parked in front of his damaged house which he had tried to clear of debris.
Japanese newspapers were full of heart-wrenching accounts from Niigata, which has been rattled by 360 aftershocks since the initial earthquake Saturday evening of 6.8 on the Richter scale.
Relatives could do nothing but listen to the cries of a 12-year-old girl calling out for help as she was trapped under her collapsed second-floor room, according to the Asahi Shimbun.
She died along with her 64-year-old grandfather who was also buried under the rubble.
And in a mountain village, a 42-year-old man who travelled 200 kilometres every weekend to take his 75-old mother to hospital died with her as the quake flattened their home, the Mainichi Shimbun said.
The dead also included a 76-year-old hospital patient whose artificial respirator was dislodged by the tremors and a two-month-old baby boy who died while fleeing in a car with his family. Most victims have been elderly people or children.
At least 1,251 people were injured, the Niigata government said. Some 97,800 people were evacuated for fear of new tremors, spending the night lodged in schools and other public buildings.
There were no immediate reports of new casualties from the aftershocks, which could be felt in Tokyo, but the Meteorological Agency warned the already suffering residents of Niigata that worse may be in store.
"We must be on the full alert as a strong aftershock measuring upper six may happen," an official at the Meteorological Agency said.
The Japanese method of measuring earthquakes goes up to seven, with the reading of upper six the same as the initial quake Saturday of 6.8 on the Richter scale. People cannot stand but have to crawl in a quake of such intensity, according to the Japanese agency's definition.
Share prices on the Tokyo Stock Exchange slumped 2.20 percent in trade early Monday, in part due to nervousness after the quakes, dealers said.
The government said it was ready to compile a supplementary budget for the current fiscal year to March 2005 to cope with damage from the quakes and a series of powerful typhoons including Tokage which last week killed at least 79 people.
The quakes flattened hundreds of houses, cracked more than 1,000 roads and triggered 11 fires, police and municipal officials said.
Japan's famed bullet train derailed for the first time
since it was put on service in 1964. It is expected to take weeks before the
bullet train service connecting Tokyo to Niigata returns to normal.
More than 60,000 houses were still out of power early Monday, according to Tohoku Electric Power Co.
Coming within days of Tokage, the country's worst
typhoon in a quarter-century, the earthquake as the deadliest to hit
tremor-prone Japan since 1995 when 6,433 people were killed by a 7.3 Richter
scale quake in western Kobe city.