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Earthquake survivors shelter inside an office building in central Kumamoto April 20, 2016.

Earthquake survivors shelter inside an office building in central Kumamoto April 20, 2016. (Seth Robson/Stars and Stripes)

Earthquake survivors shelter inside an office building in central Kumamoto April 20, 2016.

Earthquake survivors shelter inside an office building in central Kumamoto April 20, 2016. (Seth Robson/Stars and Stripes)

Japan Self Defense Force soldiers clear earthquake debris from a carpark beside Kumamoto Castle April 20, 2016.

Japan Self Defense Force soldiers clear earthquake debris from a carpark beside Kumamoto Castle April 20, 2016. (Seth Robson/Stars and Stripes)

Earthquake damage to Kumamoto Castle April 20, 2016.

Earthquake damage to Kumamoto Castle April 20, 2016. (Seth Robson/Stars and Stripes)

A U.S. MV-22 Osprey from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit appear over the mountains at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. This was the tenth Osprey mission since the Marines arrived Monday.

A U.S. MV-22 Osprey from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit appear over the mountains at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. This was the tenth Osprey mission since the Marines arrived Monday. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

A U.S. MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft lands at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. The Marines deployed four Osprey aircraft from Okinawa to Kumamoto to assist Japanese troops deliver aid to earthquake victims.

A U.S. MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft lands at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. The Marines deployed four Osprey aircraft from Okinawa to Kumamoto to assist Japanese troops deliver aid to earthquake victims. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

Soliders and airmen from the Japan Self-Defense Force load emergency aid on to a U.S. MV-22 Osprey at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Japanese and American troops delivered 18,000 pounds of relief supplies Wednesday to distribute to earthquake victims.

Soliders and airmen from the Japan Self-Defense Force load emergency aid on to a U.S. MV-22 Osprey at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Japanese and American troops delivered 18,000 pounds of relief supplies Wednesday to distribute to earthquake victims. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

Soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force wait to load a palette of food on to a U.S. MV-22 Osprey at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016.

Soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force wait to load a palette of food on to a U.S. MV-22 Osprey at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

Soliders and airmen from the Japan Self-Defense Force load emergency aid on to a U.S. MV-22 Osprey at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Japanese and American troops delivered 18,000 pounds of relief supplies Wednesday to distribute to earthquake victims.

Soliders and airmen from the Japan Self-Defense Force load emergency aid on to a U.S. MV-22 Osprey at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Japanese and American troops delivered 18,000 pounds of relief supplies Wednesday to distribute to earthquake victims. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

Soliders and airmen from the Japan Self-Defense Force load emergency aid on to a U.S. MV-22 Osprey at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Japanese and American troops delivered 18,000 pounds of relief supplies Wednesday to distribute to earthquake victims.

Soliders and airmen from the Japan Self-Defense Force load emergency aid on to a U.S. MV-22 Osprey at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Japanese and American troops delivered 18,000 pounds of relief supplies Wednesday to distribute to earthquake victims. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

Soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force unload emergency aid off a U.S. MV-22 Osprey at Hakusui Sports Park in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. The aid will be distributed to earthquake victims in the southern Japan prefecture.

Soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force unload emergency aid off a U.S. MV-22 Osprey at Hakusui Sports Park in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. The aid will be distributed to earthquake victims in the southern Japan prefecture. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

Residents living nearby Hakusui Sports Park watch and take photos of Japanese troops unloading a U.S. MV-22 Osprey in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016.

Residents living nearby Hakusui Sports Park watch and take photos of Japanese troops unloading a U.S. MV-22 Osprey in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

Soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force unload emergency aid off a U.S. MV-22 Osprey at Hakusui Sports Park in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. The aid will be distributed to earthquake victims in the southern Japan prefecture.

Soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force unload emergency aid off a U.S. MV-22 Osprey at Hakusui Sports Park in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. The aid will be distributed to earthquake victims in the southern Japan prefecture. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldier maps out plans at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. More than 20,000 Japanese troops are deployed to the southern Japan prefecture to provide emergency relief to earthquake victims.

A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force soldier maps out plans at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. More than 20,000 Japanese troops are deployed to the southern Japan prefecture to provide emergency relief to earthquake victims. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

Soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force wait for additional supplies to arrive to Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016.

Soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force wait for additional supplies to arrive to Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

The main entrance to Camp Takayabaru in Kumamoto, Japan, as seen Wednesday, April 20, 2016. The camp has become the main logistics hub for the Japanese forces to deliver aid to earthquake victims in the southern Japan prefecture.

The main entrance to Camp Takayabaru in Kumamoto, Japan, as seen Wednesday, April 20, 2016. The camp has become the main logistics hub for the Japanese forces to deliver aid to earthquake victims in the southern Japan prefecture. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

Airmen from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force haul cargo to a hangar bay at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan. The airmen are among the 20,000 Japanese troops deployed to Kumamoto to provide relief for earthquake victims.

Airmen from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force haul cargo to a hangar bay at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan. The airmen are among the 20,000 Japanese troops deployed to Kumamoto to provide relief for earthquake victims. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

Airmen from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force unload emergency aid at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. The camp is the main storage facility for emergency aid to be delivered to earthquake victims.

Airmen from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force unload emergency aid at Camp Takayubaru in Kumamoto, Japan, on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. The camp is the main storage facility for emergency aid to be delivered to earthquake victims. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

KUMAMOTO, Japan – Aftershocks again rocked buildings Wednesday as U.S. servicemembers continued to ferry supplies into the stricken region.

The Okinawa-based 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived Monday at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni with four MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft to assist the 20,000 Japanese troops Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent to the rural Kyushu prefecture.

Wednesday’s effort included shipping roughly 18,000 pounds of food, water and toiletries, bringing the week’s total to more than 65,000 pounds of aid. In all, the Marines have flown 10 missions with the Osprey and have more planned this week.

Because of the “speed and versatility,” the Osprey has “proven itself highly effective in disaster relief scenarios,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Chalkley, executive officer of the 31st MEU.

“The Osprey allows us to be positioned outside the congested disaster area in Iwakuni, quickly fly to the supply storage area in Kumamoto and then drop the supplies in a remote area with an unimproved landing site,” Chalkley said. “The Osprey provides immediate relief to those in dire need.”

The Osprey arrived in Japan four years ago under a cloud of controversy. The hybrid plane’s safety record was called into question, with proponents asking the Japanese government to reject its deployment.

No one was complaining about Osprey on Wednesday.

Curious onlookers at Hakusui Sports Park, a relief supply distribution point, watched the Ospreys land and take off from their sleepy part of town. Many recorded the show with their phones and tablets while waving enthusiastically as the U.S. Marines and Japanese soldiers unloaded the needed cargo.

Elsewhere, police and volunteers guarded entrances to the grounds of the 450-year-old Kumamoto Castle in the center of town. Many of the walls and structures surrounding the castle have sustained severe damage from the series of earthquakes that have rattled the region since April 14.

Dozens of people left homeless by the quakes were taking shelter in a large downtown office building as Japanese soldiers cleared debris from the streets. Other troops, helped by high-school students were sorting through piles of water, food, blankets and other emergency supplies in a car park beside the castle.

Virtually all businesses in the city were closed, although electricity and water had been restored, trams and buses were running and petrol stations and convenience stores were open with limited stock.

Kumamoto Airport’s terminal had also reopened with commercial flights coming in and out.

Rail services also have resumed to Fukuoka, the island’s largest city, though trains are operating at a much slower speed than usual in certain stretches.

robson.seth@stripes.com Twitter: @sethrobson1

kimber.james@stripes.com Twitter: @james_kimber

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.
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