28 killed in Ecuador disaster
were also on the way.
In Mashiki, where people were trapped beneath the rubble for hours, an unconscious 93-yearold woman, Yumiko Yamauchi, was dragged out from the debris of her home Saturday and taken by ambulance to a hospital. Her son-in-law Tatsuhiko Sakata said she had refused to move to shelter with him after the first quake Thursday.
“When I came to see her last night, I was asking her: ‘Mother? I’m here! Do you remember me? Do you remember my face?’ She replied with a huge smile filled with joy. A kind of smile that I would never forget. And that was the last I saw of her,” Sakata said.
Japanese TV showed a collapsed student dormitory at Aso city’s Tokai University that was originally two floors, but now looked like a single-storey building. A witness said he heard a cry for help from the rubble. Two students were reported to have died there.
The area has been rocked by aftershocks. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the magnitude-7.3 quake early Saturday may have been the main one, with the one from Thursday night a precursor.
Tanaka, the man spending the night in his car with others in Ozu, had spent Friday starting to clean up the mess from the first earthquake, hoping the aftershocks would gradually subside.
“Then came the big one, which was so powerful I couldn’t even stand on my feet. It was horrifying,” he said, adding when he left, his house was tilted at an angle.
David Rothery, professor of planetary geosciences at the Open University in Britain, said Saturday’s quake was 30 times more powerful than the one Thursday.
“It is unusual but not unprecedented for a larger and more damaging earthquake to follow what was taken to be the main event,” he said.
Rothery noted that in March 2011, a magnitude-7.2 earthquake in northern Japan was followed two days later by the magnitude-9.0 quake that caused a devastating tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people.
Mount Aso, near the village of Minamiaso, erupted Saturday for the first time in a month, sending smoke rising about 100 metres into the air, but no damage was reported. It was not clear whether there was a link between the quakes and the eruption. The 1,592-metre-high mountain is about a 90-miniute drive from the epicentre.
The second earthquake seriously damaged the historic Aso Shrine, a picturesque complex near the volcano. A number of buildings with curved tiled roofs were flattened on the ground like lopsided fans. A towering gate, known as the “cherry blossom gate,” collapsed. QUITO, Ecuador — A powerful, 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook Ecuador’s central coast Saturday, killing at least 28 people and spreading panic as far away as the Andean capital of Quito as it collapsed homes and rattled buildings.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the shallow quake, the strongest in decades to hit Ecuador, was centred 27 kilometres south-southeast of Muisne, in a sparsely populated area of fishing ports that’s popular with tourists.
Vice-President Jorge Glas said in a televised address there were initial reports of 28 dead in the cities of Manta, Portoviejo and Guayaquil.
Among those killed was the driver of a car crushed by an overpass that buckled in Guayaquil, the city’s most populous city, located hundreds of kilometres from the epicentre.
On social media, residents shared photos of homes collapsed, the roof of a shopping centre coming apart and supermarket shelves shaking violently.
A police officer stands guard in front of a house destroyed by an earthquake in Mashiki, Kumamoto prefecture, southern Japan Saturday.