US forces deliver aid to Japanese quake-hit areas

Troops of Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force carry emergency aid supplies from a US Marine tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft as part of relief efforts in Minami-Aso, Kumamoto prefecture, on April 18, 2016.  Japan on April 18 enlisted US help to airlift supplies to some of the 100,000 people whose homes were damaged or destroyed by earthquakes in the country's south, while rescuers struggled to find nine still missing after a massive landslide. / AFP PHOTO / KAZUHIRO NOGI



US airlifts were delivering water, bread, ready-to-eat food and other emergency supplies on Monday to a remote area of southern Japan stricken by two powerful earthquakes, as local rescuers searched for 10 people still reported missing.
Authorities said at least 42 people died and more than 1,000 were injured in the quakes on Thursday and early on Saturday.
The flights by two MV-22 Ospreys were a gesture of cooperation between the two allies and a chance for the US military to demonstrate the utility of the tilt-rotor aircraft, whose deployment has raised controversy in Japan due to safety concerns.
Minamiaso, a town of 12,000 on the southern island of Kyushu, was partly cut off by landslides and road and bridge damage. Residents there marked their location with chairs aligned in a giant “SOS” while awaiting the US relief flights, which also delivered tents and portable toilets and waste treatment kits.
YachiyoFuchigami, 64, was among those keeping a wary eye on puffs of smoke rising from nearby 1,592-meter Mount Aso, Japan’s largest active volcano.
Fuchigami suffered a broken arm when a bookshelf fell on her during the second quake. The first quake caused more damage in another, less remote city, Mashiki.
“The second earthquake caught us by surprise,” she said. “We survived the first one and were watching the scenes in Mashiki on TV. I never thought we were going to be next.”
Nine people died in the first, magnitude 6.4 earthquake, and 33 in the second quake, which registered 7.1, revised from an initial reading of 7.3.
Rescuers were redoubling search efforts, shoveling through mud and debris as they rushed to beat forecast heavy rains that would make land and collapsed buildings even more unstable.

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