Please pray for those killed, injured, or who are left homeless in the two earthquakes today:
KASHIWAZAKI, Japan (Reuters) - More than 12,000 people huddled in evacuation centers in northwest Japan on Tuesday after an earthquake flattened homes, killing nine elderly people, injuring around 1,000 and triggering a leak of contaminated water from a nuclear plant.
As aftershocks continued, forecasts for wet weather raised fears of mudslides that could add to the devastation.
“I am worried about the aftershocks,” said 80-year-old Toshiko Kojima, who said she had spent a mostly sleepless night in a crowded elementary school gymnasium in the worst-hit city of Kashiwazaki, too afraid to go home.
A small fire and a leak of contaminated water at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant – the world’s largest – reignited fears about nuclear safety in a country that relies on atomic power for about one third of its electricity.
Water, gas and electricity supplies were cut by the 6.8 magnitude quake that hit Niigata prefecture at 10:13 a.m. (0113 GMT) on Monday, which also caused a small radiation leak and fire at the world’s biggest nuclear plant.
With more than 300 homes totally destroyed in Kashiwazaki alone, it was unclear when people could go home and worries were mounting about the health of evacuees, many of whom are elderly.
“The damage was worse than anticipated,” Mayor Hiroshi Kaeda told reporters. “If we can restore water service, more people can go home to live, so that is what we want to do first.”
In Kashiwazaki, people lined up with plastic bottles for fresh water, which was trucked in by local officials and a contingent of about 500 members of the armed forces.
The navy shipped in emergency rations, convenience stores and supermarkets gave out rice balls and bottled water, and smiling soldiers in camouflage uniforms and helmets made rice balls and distributed them at schools and other evacuation centers. Continued…