A New Sense of Fragility in Japanese Town Struck Twice by Quakes

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Damaged houses in Mashiki, Japan, on Sunday. The mostly wooden homes in a city crumbled in dual earthquakes that struck late Thursday dusk and early Saturday morning.

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Ko Sasaki for The New York Times

MASHIKI, Japan — People here pronounced they had famous that a network of error lines ran underneath their city like veins. But no vital trembler had struck in anyone’s lifetime. Even in Japan, a many seismically inconstant nation in a world, that fact had apparently combined a fake clarity of security.

That was before dual earthquakes struck within usually over a day this past week.

On Sunday, some braved a clearly unconstrained aftershocks to differentiate by their burst homes, looking for valuables — a bankbook, remedy indispensable by an aged relative. Others easeful in their cars, as even a sturdiest buildings unexpected felt fragile.

“There were stories from hundreds of years ago, though nobody suspicion it would occur right underneath them,” pronounced Tadashi Uchida, 77, a conduct of a area organisation in a territory of Mashiki with about 500 households. Dozens of a area’s mostly wooden homes, including Mr. Uchida’s, crumbled in a twin quakes, that struck late Thursday dusk and early Saturday morning. With magnitudes of 6.2 and 7, according to a United States Geological Survey, they have left during slightest 42 people dead.

Water, electricity and gas remained cut off in many of Mashiki and surrounding towns and villages on a island of Kyushu, in Japan’s distant southwest. More than 100,000 people were in proxy shelters, a authorities said.

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Mr. Uchida has been sleeping in his tiny hatchback, together with his mother and an bum 82-year-old neighbor. The automobile sat on Sunday alongside about 20 others in a internal park, where a belligerent was separate by a prolonged indenture several feet far-reaching and several deep.

At a cluster of cruise tables during one finish of a park, several women in their 70s and 80s baked rice on stay stoves, shouting to buoy their spirits. They were interrupted by a dark-robed clergyman from a circuitously Buddhist temple, who had stopped by to broach H2O and news about a conditions in shelters. The women and Mr. Uchida pronounced they elite to stay in a park, since it was some-more private and closer to their homes.

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Yoshitaka Ozeki watched his children play outward their shop-worn home on Sunday. Mr. Ozeki done discerning runs into a unit to get comfortable garments and blankets.

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Ko Sasaki for The New York Times

One of a women, Taeko Uchiyama, 80, pronounced evacuating her home reminded her of journey American bombing raids on a circuitously city of Kumamoto toward a finish of World War II.

“I was 9 years aged then, and now I’m carrying another knowledge during 80,” she said.

Mashiki is usually a brief expostulate from Kumamoto, and before a upheaval it had transient a misfortune of a demographic and mercantile decrease that grips most of farming Japan. The town’s race of 33,000 was even growing. Residents pronounced after a quakes that they approaching Mashiki to recover, though disturbed that could take years.

Yoshitaka Ozeki, 35, who works in highway construction, pronounced he changed from Kumamoto with his wife, Kiyomi, 31, to lift a family. They have 7 children — already surprising in a nation with a low birthrate — and Kiyomi is 8 months pregnant. Their two-story unit building was shop-worn though remained standing, and they, too, have been sleeping in dual family cars.

Mr. Ozeki pronounced he done discerning runs into a unit between aftershocks — there have been some-more than 400, many clever adequate to means new repairs — to find comfortable garments and blankets.

“I tell a kids it’s O.K., though afterwards it shakes again, and they start great again,” he said.

He combined that he approaching there would be copiousness of work on a approach for him, repair burst roads, though voiced worry that he would not be means to find another place to live.

A 10-minute travel away, some-more than 1,000 people, immature and old, were congested into a sports formidable that had been incited into an depletion center. The survivors complacent on blankets and pieces of cardboard, stuffing each room and hallway. Many brought their dogs.

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Evacuees took preserve during a open gym in Mashiki on Sunday.

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Ko Sasaki for The New York Times

Generator trucks done a gym formidable one of few places in Mashiki with electricity. The most-coveted spots were in a vast room lonesome in soothing mats routinely used for judo.

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“For a initial dual or 3 days we’re usually focused on how to get them inside and feed them,” pronounced Kazuki Yamane, a executive of a Y.M.C.A., that manages a facility, who had come from Tokyo to assistance classify a effort.

He pronounced many evacuees were expected to lapse home once a aftershocks subsided and H2O and energy were restored, though some would substantially need preserve for weeks or months.

In one tiny though intensively shop-worn neighborhood, Imayoshi, substantially all of a 20 or 30 wooden homes were broken — burst and disposition over during warped angles; caved in during a centers; or knocked over roughly intact, like dominoes. The area was forlorn solely for Hideaki and Tetsuko Yoshino, both 73, who pronounced their home had survived since it was comparatively new. They had it rebuilt to stronger standards 15 years ago after it was shop-worn by a typhoon.

“The initial upheaval shifted a piano by a scale or so,” Mrs. Yoshino pronounced of a magnitude-6.2 trembler on Thursday. “The second one flipped it right over.”

The Yoshinos pronounced they farmed rice and melons — a latter a Mashiki specialty — and were perplexing to deliver a few splendid yellow melons from their stand to discharge in town. Mr. Yoshino pronounced their neighbors were trustworthy to a land and would substantially wish to rebuild. But many were in their 70s and 80s, and few, if any, had trembler insurance, that is dear and covers usually a tiny apportionment of waste in any case.

“Realistically, we don’t know what they’re going to do,” Mr. Yoshino said.

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