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Quake-triggered landslides isolate residents, wreak havoc on transport and utilities

Landslides triggered by a series earthquakes that have hit Kumamoto and surrounding prefectures have isolated some residents and dealt a further blow to lifeline utilities and transportation systems.

According to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, the earthquakes caused 15 landslides in Kumamoto Prefecture alone. In the Kawayo district of Minamiaso, guests at two hot spa inns were temporarily cut off.

A landslide occurred in the Oita Prefecture city of Nakatsu and in the Miyazaki Prefecture village of Shiiba, damaging some houses.

Several expressway sections in disaster-hit areas, including the Ueki-Yatsushiro section on the Kyushu Expressway, were closed as of 12 a.m. on April 17. Work to remove the earth has begun on the outbound lanes of the Oita Expressway between Yufuin Interchange and Hiji Junction.

Numerous sections on national highways in Kumamoto Prefecture and surrounding areas are closed, including Route 325 where the Aso Ohashi Bridge has collapsed.

Railway lines have been seriously affected by the disaster. The tracks of the JR Hohi Line between Tateno and Akamizu stations were torn off the railbed in the disaster.

It is expected to take a few days before commercial service at Kumamoto Airport, whose terminal building sustained serious damage, can be restored. However, its runway is open 24 hours a day for Self-Defense Forces aircraft and air ambulances engaged in rescue and relief operations.

According to a survey by the Mainichi Shimbun, the water supply has been cut off to at least 390,000 households in Kumamoto Prefecture, and the figure totals some 400,000 if Oita, Miyazaki, Nagasaki and Saga prefectures are included. There is no prospect that the water supply will be restored in the near future.

Meanwhile, temporary blackouts affected about 203,700 households in Kumamoto, Oita and Miyazaki prefectures -- some 197,200 of them in Kumamoto Prefecture. Power has been cut off to all households in the village of Minamiaso and about 16,000 households in the city of Aso -- about 84 percent of those in the city.

Saibugas Co. has suspended gas supplies to approximately 105,000 households in Kumamoto Prefecture to prevent possible leaks.

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