At least nine people have been killed and more than 800 injured by a magnitude-6.5 earthquake that toppled houses and buckled roads in southern Japan late Thursday, the AP reports. With daybreak, the extent of the damage became apparent: collapsed buildings, streets warped by manholes pushed higher by the earth's movement, an expressway crunched and buckled. The damage was severe in the town of Mashiki, about 9 miles from Kumamoto city on the island of Kyushu, with entire buildings fallen to the ground, roofs that slid off, and windows and walls that crumbled, scattering glass and debris. "The shaking was so violent I couldn't stand still," says a Kumamoto Prefectural Police night-duty official.
Five women and four men were killed, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency says. One man in his 20s died; the rest of the victims ranged from their 50s to one woman in her 90s. Eight of the nine victims were from Mashiki. The government's chief spokesman says at least 860 people have been injured, 53 seriously. He says 1,600 soldiers have joined the relief and rescue efforts. The BBC reports that officials fear many people are still trapped in collapsed buildings, but rescue operations have been disrupted by strong aftershocks. No tsunami warning has been issued, and Kyushu's nuclear reactors do not seem to have been affected. Television footage showed fires breaking out after the earthquake, with firefighters battling an orange blaze. (Read more Japan earthquake stories.)