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Death toll reaches 48 after Japanese earthquakes

Published 20/04/2016

The earthquakes caused widespread damage in parts of Kumamoto city and surrounding communities on the island of Kyushu (AP)
The earthquakes caused widespread damage in parts of Kumamoto city and surrounding communities on the island of Kyushu (AP)

A man's body has been found in a landslide-hit area in southern Japan, bringing the death toll to 48 after two powerful earthquakes on successive nights last week.

Three people are still missing, and authorities in Kumamoto said another 11 had died from illnesses believed to be related to the physical stress of evacuation.

More than 100,000 people have been left homeless or have fled their homes as aftershocks continued to shake the area. Many are living in cramped conditions in shelters or even their cars, with limited food and water.

A magnitude 6.5-earthquake on Thursday night followed by a 7.3 quake early on Saturday morning caused widespread damage in parts of Kumamoto city and surrounding communities on the island of Kyushu, the southern-most of Japan's four main islands.

The latest body was found in the mountain village of Minamiaso, where the second quake triggered landslides that slammed into buildings and across roads.

Soldiers and other rescue workers used diggers and shovels to search through dirt and debris for the missing.

The hardest-hit town appears to be Mashiko, where 20 people died. Kumamoto prefecture has tallied more than 1,400 homes destroyed so far, of which at least 1,000 are in Mashiko.

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