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Strong Earthquake Hits Japan, Killing At Least Nine

Local residents walk next to a collapsed wall after a powerful April 14 earthquake in the town of Mashiki in southern Japan.

Japanese officials say least nine people were killed after a powerful earthquake struck the south of the country on April 14, sparking fires and injuring hundreds of others as rescue workers searched through the night for people possibly trapped in rubble.

The magnitude-6 earthquake brought down some buildings as well, though Japan's nuclear regulator reported that there were no problems at power plants.

A Japanese government spokesman said nine people were killed in the strong quake on the southern island of Kyushu.

A disaster management official from the island's hard-hit Kumamoto prefecture also put the death toll at nine.

Public broadcaster NHK said there was no tsunami warning but that one person was killed after being crushed by a building that collapsed. Another was killed in a fire that broke out after the earthquake, NHK reported.

The broadcaster added that at least 400 people were treated at local hospitals.

Some 44,400 people had also been evacuated, while more than 100 aftershocks had been recorded since the quake struck shortly before 9.30 p.m. local time, the Kyodo news agency reported.

"We will do our utmost and carry on with life-saving and rescue operations throughout the night," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters.

Japanese media showed footage of residents, some of whom were wrapped in blankets, gathering in parking lots and other open spaces to avoid the potential collapse of other buildings.

"The apartment building I live in is now tilting. Everything fell down inside. It's a mess," one male resident of the town of Mashiki told NHK.

Japan is one of the world's most seismically active countries and has been on edge about the safety of nuclear power plants ever since a massive undersea earthquake in March 2011 triggered a tsunami that struck the country's northeastern coast.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP
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