At least 42 killed as 500 quakes rock Japan island

Workers attempt to restore the Kyushu bullet train.

More than 500 earthquakes have hit Kyushu Island in Japan since Thursday, killing at least 42 people and forcing major multinational companies to close factories.

More than 70 of the quakes have been at least a four on Japan’s intensity scale, strong enough to shake buildings, while some have measured as high as 7.3 magnitude.

About 30,000 rescue workers were scouring the rubble for survivors and handing out food to those unable to return to their homes following the quakes which struck Kyushu from Thursday. The biggest hit near Kumamoto City early on Saturday.

“There are still missing people. We want to make further efforts to rescue and save people and prioritise human lives,” prime minister Shinzo Abe told parliament, adding he aimed to declare the region a disaster zone to free up reconstruction funds.

Factories for major manufacturers, including Toyota, Sony, and Honda, were closed, disrupting supply chains around the country.

All commercial flights to the damaged Kumamoto airport were cancelled and the bullet train service to the region was suspended.

Food was in short supply as roads remained cut off by landslides. Evacuees made an SOS signal out of chairs at a school playground, hoping to catch the attention of supply helicopters

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