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Troops deployed to southern Japan after earthquakes, up to 32 dead

KUMAMOTO, Japan, April 16 (UPI) — Troops have been deployed to southern Japan after another major tremor rocked the region within 24 hours after a 6.2 quake, leaving an additional estimated 22 dead.

A major tremor rocked southern Japan on Friday for the second day in a row, in the same region where a quake hit on Thursday, leaving up to 10 dead, according to some reports.

ABC News reported up to 32 people have died as a result of the tremors, with an estimated 1,500 others injured. BBC said at least 20 have been killed.

Authorities ordered 20,000 troops to the region to help local firefighters and police in search and rescue efforts. They reportedly arrived Saturday morning.

Some victims of the quakes are considered still trapped under rubble or buried alive.

The second quake struck near Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu with a magnitude of 7.0, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Some news reports said it had a magnitude of 7.4.

It is now being considered by CNN meteorologists as the main shock, and previous tremors as foreshocks. Subsequent quakes are expected to last days or weeks but at decreasing intensity, and may be considered aftershocks.

A tsunami warning was initially given after the quake, but later lifted.

The quake caused heavy damage on Kyushu island, where nearly 200,000 homes lost electricity. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the damage caused by the earthquake was substantial.

At least 92,000 residents in and around Kumamoto have been displaced, BBC said.

Suga said more than 50 people remained trapped and nearly two dozen buried alive, ABC News reported. Nearly 500 were injured — 44 of whom are critically hurt.

ABC’s report also said fires and a landslide followed Saturday’s earthquake, which itself was followed by aftershocks into Saturday morning, one measuring a magnitude of 4.8. Rescuers are searching for survivors in buildings that have suffered catastrophic damage.

Friday’s quake is the second major tremor to hit the area in as many days. A 6.2 magnitude quake struck the same island Thursday, killing 9 people and injuring hundreds more.

“No question, this is a large and very important earthquake,” Doug Given, a geophysicist with the USGS, said. “And it will do a lot of damage.”

As day broke Saturday morning, authorities got a better look at the extensive damage the quakes caused. The earthquake happened around 1:30 a.m. local time — a little more than 24 hours after Thursday’s 6.2 magnitude quake.

Seismic activity is commonplace in Japan and much of the Asian Pacific Rim, which is positioned on the so-called geologic “Ring of Fire,” where subterranean tectonic plates converge.

Doug G. Ware contributed to this report.

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