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Japan earthquakes disrupt daily life

NAGAOKA, Japan — While Church members avoided personal injury in an earthquake Saturday, Oct. 23, followed by a series of powerful aftershocks, their homes and transportation were impacted.

Wallis Mayhew, Relief Society president of the Nagaoka Branch, Niigata District of the Japan Sendai Mission, submitted a report that the area most affected by the quake and its aftershocks was within the branch's boundaries. She said that all Church members were safe but that aftershocks were still occurring frequently as of Wednesday, Oct. 27.

Electricity, sewer and water services were still interrupted in some rural parts of the area, she said.

The series of powerful earthquakes and aftershocks rattled northern Japan on Saturday, according to Associated Press reports. The most powerful quake, recorded as magnitude 6.8, centered on Ojiya, about 160 miles northwest of Tokyo. More than 30 people died and hundreds were injured. More than 100,000 people were driven from their homes.

Most Church members returned to their homes by Wednesday, according to Sister Mayhew, after spending at least one night in their cars or with family or friends. As cleanup started, she added, some members were not yet comfortable about returning to their homes. Aftershocks continued, including two of magnitude 6.2 and 5.9.

Sister Mayhew said her own family was fine and didn't have to use emergency supplies of water or fuel, but lost some belongings including an oven and some kitchen goods.

"We are not sure how many weeks it will be before we are able to attend Church in Nagaoka, as we live on the opposite side of the most devastated area — Ojiya," she wrote in an e-mail. "Transportation through the Nagaoka Branch is cut off with roads collapsed and train and shinkansen (bullet train) tracks unusable."

The temblors came just days after Japan's deadliest typhoon in more than a decade, which left 79 dead and a dozen others missing, the Associated Press reported.

Typhoon Tokage ripped through the country with high waves and rapid mud slides, demolishing homes and flooding dozens of communities in western Japan before losing power and disappearing over the Pacific Ocean.

Japan, which rests atop several tectonic plates, is among the world's most earthquake-prone countries. A magnitude 6 quake can cause widespread damage to homes and other buildings if centered on a heavily populated area.

There was another problem accompanying the earthquake and its aftershocks, according to the Associated Press, as rain pelted the weary region, creating fears of new mudslides.