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Death Toll Rises to 21 after 2nd Massive Quake Hits SW Japan
   2016-04-16 12:18:09    Xinhua      Web Editor: Li Cong

The photo taken on April 16, 2016 shows fallen shelves at a hotel after an earthquake in Kumamoto, southwesternJapan. Kumamoto Prefecture in southwestern Japan was hit again by a magnitude-7.1 earthquake on Saturday at 1:25 local time. [Photo: Xinhua/Liu Tian]

At least 12 people have been confirmed dead after a 7.3-magnitude earthquake rocked Japan's southwestern Kumamoto Prefecture on Saturday, bringing the total number killed since Thursday to 21.

Local government officials confirmed that at least 12 people were dead and hundreds hospitalized as a result of the powerful earthquake that hit Kumamoto in the early hours of Saturday, followed by numerous severe aftershocks.

The quake struck at 01:25 local time (1625 GMT Friday) and was upgraded from a provisional magnitude of 7.1 to 7.3, with the temblor being felt across wide swathes of southern Japan and triggering a tsunami warning which was later lifted.

Numerous aftershocks followed, including a magnitude-5.4 quake registering lower 6 on Japan scale that shaked Kumamoto at 9:48 a.m. local time (0048 GMT).

Local media also reported a "small-scale" eruption at Mount Aso, a large active volcano in Kumamoto. The Japanese Meteorological Agency said that it was not clear how the eruption was linked to the quakes.

The agency also said that Saturday's massive earthquake was the main event while the one on April 14 was a foreshock.

A 6.5-magnitude quake hit southwestern Japan Thursday night, killing 9 and injuring over 950 others.

The quakes triggered blackout in three municipalities affecting about 200,000 households. Traffic was halted on some expressways in Kumamoto and Miyazaki Prefectures and parts of local roads were damaged. All flights from Kumamoto Airport on Saturday have been cancelled, said local reports.

No abnormalities were observed at the Sendai nuclear power plant, the only operating nuclear facility in the area, said local reports.

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