Magnitude 6.6 Earthquake Strikes Northern Japan Near Major City

Casey GreeneSep 07, 2018

Police and rescue workers search for survivors from a house that was damaged by a landslide caused by an quake in Atsuma town in Hokkaido prefecture on September 6, 2018.

The 6.7-magnitude, pre-dawn quake has paralysed Hokkaido, killing at least seven people, triggering landslides and knocking out power to its 5.3million residents.

And around 30 residents were missing in Atsuma, where the intensity of the quake is estimated to have been an upper 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7.

A row of houses could be seen slanting at odd angles, leaning against one another in one town, and many schools were closed, NHK said.

In Tokyo, the central government said the Self-Defence Forces will dispatch 25,000 personnel for relief operations at the request of the governor of Hokkaido.

A Kiwi staying near the epicentre at Obihiro has described the moment the quake hit. The country's meteorological agency said there are no threats of a tsunami. They warned that strong aftershocks could continue for a week. At least 20 other people were injured in nearby towns.

There were no injuries immediately reported.

The government is seeking to restore partial power to some areas as soon as possible once Hokkaido Electric Power Co (9509.T) restarts its Sunagawa coal-fired plant, Seko said.

As Japan's northern frontier and a major farming region with rugged mountain ranges and vast forests, Hokkaido is an area accustomed to coping with long winters, isolation and other hardships.

There were widespread power outages and blocked roads, NHK said, but no early reports of deaths.

A nuclear power plant on the island also had its power knocked out briefly.

The utility had restored power to about 1.31 million of 2.95 million customers by early Friday, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.

The Hokkaido Electric Power Company said close to three million households have lost power. The cleanup effort at the facility still generates huge amounts of nuclear waste, and Tokyo Electric doesn't expect to begin clearing fuel debris from the destroyed reactor cores until into the next decade.

No abnormality has been confirmed in radiation levels around the plant, regulators said.

Transportations systems were in turmoil following the quake.

However, manufacturers were still being affected by power outages.

The quake also caused major transport disruption with all flights cancelled from Sapporo's main Chitose airport, where the shaking brought down part of a ceiling and burst a water pipe.

Japanese broadcaster NHK said a number of homes had collapsed, but there was no immediate word on the extent of the damage. A man suffered cardiac arrest after falling down the stairs, local media reported.

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