A “Shindo 7″ (magnitude 6.5) earthquake struck the western Japanese city of Kumamoto on Thursday, April 14. At least nine people were killed and 33,000 evacuated from their homes. Nearly 1,000 people have been reported as injured.
In terms of intensity, this was the largest earthquake experienced by Japan since the one that struck Japan's northeastern Tohoku region in March 2011, touching off a massive tsunami that left thousands dead.
Aftershocks continued throughout the night. A camera crew, sent out to record damage to a castle wall in the center of the city of Kumamoto recorded an aftershock live on television. The video's title translates as “23,000 evacuated after Shindo 7 earthquake strikes Kumamoto.”
The earthquake was felt in much of western Japan and was centered on Mashiki, a suburban township to the east of Kumamoto City.
It ruptured gas lines, causing several fires (most Japanese homes rely on propane gas for cooking and heating water; propane is stored outside the home in pressured cylinders).
Following the earthquake and its aftershocks, social media was filled with images of the quake.
— 日刊時事ニュース (@nikkan_jijinews) April 14, 2016
Mashiki Township, Kumamoto Prefecture: Numerous buildings have been destroyed as a resulted of a Shindo 7 earthquake and resulting fires.
The Shindo 7 quake resulted in quite visible shaking and destruction of buildings, it was reported. It was reported at 10 pm, April 14 that over 10 buildings have collapsed. Some of the structures have been consumed by fire.
Older homes appeared to be hard hit.
— 毎日新聞写真部 (@mainichiphoto) April 14, 2016
We have received images from our helicopter above the epicenter in Kumamoto. Special photo coverage here: http://mainichi.jp/photography/
The following day, the extent of the damage became apparent.
— 産経ニュース (@Sankei_news) April 15, 2016
Photos of widespread devastation in Kumamoto.
The area's older traditional homes could not withstand the power of the earthquake.
— 竹内明 Mei Takeuchi (@nygangsta0327) April 15, 2016
The seventy-year-old owner of this house in Mashiki was trapped under fallen roof tiles but was rescued by neighbours after about an hour. She had two broken bones and was sent to hospital. According to her husband, at the moment of the earthquake she dove under a small table and could protect her head, and will likely recover.
Due to continuing aftershocks and fears of more fires from ruptured gas lines, thousands of people took shelter in open spaces such as school playing fields.
— 朝日新聞写真部 (@asahi_photo) April 14, 2016
Following the Kumamoto earthquake, residents have evacuated to local schools and are sheltering on plastic tarps.
— おかけん (@kt112077) April 14, 2016
We're spending an uneasy night as aftershocks continue in Kumamoto City.
Right now we have evacuated to the playing fields at Kumamoto University. The school gym is accepting evacuees so wherever you are please take care of yourself.
Some locals posted images of the damage to social media.
— だらく (@dara9_) April 14, 2016
Cars have toppled from the automated parking garage.
— エザゼル (@0_____14) April 14, 2016
Damage from the Kumamoto earthquake.
— Vlad C (@vladtweets) April 14, 2016
Kumamoto Castle, a ferroconcrete facsimile built in 1960, suffered extensive damage to stone walls line its moat.
— 加藤清正 (@higonotora) April 14, 2016
The “impregnable fortress” could not withstand an earthquake. The castle walls could not withstand the aftershocks.
In the light of day more damage to the castle was apparent.
— grape (@grapeejp) April 15, 2016
Castle roof tiles in disarray! Are there any plans to protect Japan's historic Kumamoto castle from future earthquakes!?!?!
Some people pointed out that the relatively large and intense Kumamoto earthquake occurred close to three nuclear power installations in Saga Prefecture (just to the north), Kagoshima (just to the south), and Ehime (about 300 kilometers to the east on the island of Shikoku).
— microcarpa (@microcarpa1) April 14, 2016
Data from the near-magnitude 8 earthquake in Kyushu keeps coming in. Nearby nuclear power plants are at high risk from a huge quake.
And as often happens on social media in times of crisis, at least one hoax went viral before being debunked.
【 地震でライオン脱走とデマ 】
— ニュース速報Japan (@breakingnews_jp) April 14, 2016
The “earthquake lion” is a hoax!
Following the earthquake there were some images of “an escaped lion from the Kumamoto zoo” that were shared a ton on Twitter.
The photos are apparently from Johannesburg (in South Africa).
This article has been updated.
Support our work
Global Voices stands out as one of the earliest and strongest examples of how media committed to building community and defending human rights can positively influence how people experience events happening beyond their own communities and national borders.
Please consider making a donation to help us continue this work.