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Japan earthquake death toll rises

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Six people are known to have been killed and more than 200 injured in the 7.0 quake that struck the rural mountainous region of Iwate on Japan's main island of Honshu. Landslides followed the tremors across Akita prefecture - the epicentre of the quake. There have been more than 200 aftershocks. Those missing include seven people feared buried by a mudslide at a hot spring hotel in mountains outside the town of Kurihara, Miyagi region. With major roads buckled and unusable, search teams hiked through mountain trails to reach isolated towns. A small amount of radioactive water was leaked at a nuclear power station, but officials said there was no danger to the public from the minor spillage at the facility in Fukushima. Seismologists issued a warning of the earthquake moments before it struck around 0845 (2343 GMT) on Friday. Surveillance cameras in the city of Sendai showed it being shaken violently for about 30 seconds.

UPDATE - The quake death toll has risen to at least nine. Mountains were carved away by the force of the quake, trees crashed into newly slashed ravines, roads were cut off by landslides, and bridges buckled and broke. More than 260 aftershocks had jolted the area by this morning, and officials warned there could be strong quakes to come. Efforts to find seven people believed trapped in a hot spring resort swamped by a massive landslide resumed early this morning. Rescue workers picked their way through debris while scores of others, including soldiers, began carefully crossing a river of mud covered with makeshift wooden boards to get to the two-story inn, whose first floor had completely collapsed. Some 100 people were cut off in remote areas after roads were blocked by landslides. Experts said the scope of the quake was far smaller than the one that hit China a month ago and the region's sparse population and Japan's stricter building codes also limited the damage.
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