A powerful earthquake has struck southern Japan, causing casualties and collapsed buildings.
According to Japan’s Meteorological Agency, the quake hit at 9.26 pm and was centered seven miles east from the town of Mashiki in the Kumamoto prefecture.
Initial reports placed the quake at a magnitude 6.4, but this was later downgraded to 6.2 by the US Geological Survey.
A number of “strong” aftershocks have also been reported.
The Japanese Kyodo news agency reported that at least 40 people were seeking treatment at a hospitals in Kumamoto city, and one woman is in critical condition.
Others are feared trapped under fallen structures.
Around 20 houses have collapsed, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK.
A fire also broke out in Mashiki, populated by around 34,000 people and local television showed footage of firefighters tackling a blaze at a building.
Officials said there is no danger of a tsunami and confirmed the region’s nuclear facilities have not been adversely affected by the tremors. The plants remain in operation.
However, some gas and power outages were reported in areas close to the epicenter.