An 8-month-old baby girl was pulled from the wreckage of her home in the darkness of early morning Friday after she had been trapped for six hours following a massive earthquake on Japan’s Kyushu island.
The baby’s rescue came in time to spare her a second 7.0-magnitude quake, which hit early Saturday morning.
The toddler, Miku Nishimura, was asleep on the first floor of the Mashiki home when a 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck on Thursday night, police told NBC News. The baby’s mother, grandparents, and 4-year-old brother were in the kitchen and living room when the tremors started, according to Japan’s Mainichi newspaper.
More than 50 policemen and firefighters were involved in the effort to retrieve the child, according to the Japan Times.
Powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.1 strikes southern Japan; tsunami advisory issued: https://t.co/LwFGoyG3UE
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 15, 2016
Aftershocks were preventing the use of heavy equipment at the site, so workers wearing hard hats with lights climbed onto the roof and began digging.
The building’s second floor had collapsed, with crossbeams from the roof forming a cavity over the baby.
The baby’s mother could see Miku through a crack in the wreckage but could not get to her.
Finally, shortly before 4 a.m. on Friday, Miku was lifted out of the rubble amid cries of joy. She had not been injured. She was handed down, from one worker to the next, until she was taken by an ambulance medic.
Hidenori Watanabe, a spokesman for the Kumamoto Higashi fire department, talked to CNN about the child’s rescue.
“It was miracle she was unharmed.”
Thursday’s 6.5 magnitude quake, which killed nine people and injured 800 others, appears to have been a foreshock, a preamble to Saturday’s massive tremor, according to Doug Given, a geophysicist with the USGS.
“That’s not to say that the Earth can’t produce a bigger earthquake still to follow. But statistically, it’s more likely that this latest event will be followed by aftershocks, which are all smaller.”
New Japan Earthquake Magnitude-7.1 Causes Tsunami Warning Near Kumamoto https://t.co/mYr38HBBWA
— Adrian Padarath (@iPadarath) April 15, 2016
Saturday’s quake struck about eight miles from the epicenter of Thursday’s seismic event. It is not clear yet how much damage has occurred or how many fatalities, if any. Given said there is no doubt that there will be an impact.
“No question, this is a large and very important earthquake. And it will do a lot of damage.”
The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami advisory for coastal regions of Japan on the Ariake Sea and Yatsushiro Sea around 2 a.m. Saturday (1 p.m. ET Friday).
The tsunami warning has since been lifted. Given noted that the epicenter of both quakes has occurred in a Japanese danger zone, a stretch along the Pacific that is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity.
“…the four islands of Japan are on the edge of what’s traditionally been known as the ‘Ring of Fire.'”
Experts say that the shallow depth of Saturday’s quake, extending about six miles, combined with the densely populated area, could spell serious disaster.
A journalist in Tokyo, Mike Firn, told CNN he felt the tremor even though he was more than 550 miles away.
“The building started shaking. It was swaying quite strongly for over a minute… Buildings were swaying and cracking.”
Victor Sardina, a geophysicist in Honolulu, Hawaii, told CNN that the latest quake was “about 30 times more powerful than Thursday’s deadly tremor. He predicted ‘severe, serious implications in terms of damage and human losses.'”
[Photo by Kumamoto Prefectural Police/AP Images]