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City hall in quake-hit Kumamoto Pref. at risk of collapse

The badly damaged and empty Uto Municipal Government building is seen in the early morning of April 16, 2016. (Mainichi)

UTO, Kumamoto -- The municipal government building here is at risk of collapsing after a magnitude-7.3 earthquake hit the Kumamoto area of Kumamoto Prefecture in the early morning of April 16.

The powerful earthquake has caused especially serious damage to the ceiling of the fourth floor. Uto Mayor Shigeki Motomatsu said a structural beam has fallen.

The city hall had been off-limits since the April 14 tremor created a crack in the building. Some 30 local residents who had been evacuated to the building at the time, as well as about 20 municipal government employees, were evacuated outside on the night of April 14. The Uto Municipal Government set up its disaster control headquarters outside in tents.

Although phone lines are out of service, the city government is sending out information via the internet and other means of communication. There is a possibility that a seismometer at the municipal government building has been broken.

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