The toll from the high-intensity earthquake in Kumamoto stood at nine dead and over 1,000 injured Friday as rescue crews scrambled to search the debris for survivors.

The shallow, magnitude-6.5 quake toppled houses and buckled roads in and around the prefectural capital on Thursday night in what was Kyushu's first level 7 temblor on the seven-tier Japanese seismic intensity scale.

"It was just like the Great Hanshin Earthquake or the Great East Japan Earthquake. I never thought I would experience that here," mother-of-one Akiko Hakata told The Japan Times. "I hunched over my son to protect him."