Japan steps up all-out effort for missing nine

Ground Self-Defence Force troops searching for survivors at a landslide site in Minamiaso. Nine people are still missing, feared buried in collapsed houses.
Ground Self-Defence Force troops searching for survivors at a landslide site in Minamiaso. Nine people are still missing, feared buried in collapsed houses.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Railway workers yesterday attending to a Kyushu shinkansen (bullet train) after it became derailed during the quake in Kumamoto. At least 42 people are known to have died in the tremors.
Railway workers yesterday attending to a Kyushu shinkansen (bullet train) after it became derailed during the quake in Kumamoto. At least 42 people are known to have died in the tremors.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MINAMIASO (Japan) • Rescuers intensified the hunt for nine people still missing in southern Japan yesterday, with time running out after two powerful earthquakes left buildings in rubble and houses buried in mud.

At least 42 people are known to have died after the earthquakes struck the island of Kyushu, officials said, and the missing are feared buried in houses that have been engulfed by landslides, reported Agence France-Presse.

Up to 25,000 rescue personnel have fanned out through villages where scores of traditional-style houses have been left in ruins by Saturday's 7.3-magnitude quake, which struck a part of Japan not used to such tremors.

Japan yesterday enlisted United States help to airlift supplies to some of the 110,000 people made homeless by the earthquakes. Tilt- rotor Osprey aircraft were flying to the disaster zone after arriving at a US Marine airbase to take part in relief efforts, officials said.

US troops based in Japan were also pressed into service. The US military has almost 50,000 servicemen and women stationed in Japan.

ALL-OUT SEARCH

There are individuals still missing. We will continue to give our all for search and rescue activities.

PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government was working tirelessly to find survivors.

"There are individuals still missing," he told reporters. "We will continue to give our all for search and rescue activities."

Singapore's Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen, has conveyed the Republic's condolences over the disaster to his Japanese counterpart, Mr Gen Nakatani, and offered to deploy a Needs Assessment and Survey Team from the Changi Regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Coordination Centre, according to a Mindef press statement.

Singapore-based humanitarian non-governmental organisation Mercy Relief is also participating in the disaster relief effort, providing food, water, sanitation packs and other non-food necessities. It will launch a fund-raising drive today, running up to May 19, to solicit donations from the public.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2016, with the headline 'Japan steps up all-out effort for missing nine'. Print Edition | Subscribe