Killed, 31 Missing and Dozens Injured in Hokkaido Earthquake


The city of Tomakomai Japan is indicated on this map

The magnitude-6.7 quake, which hit at 3.08am yesterday (2.08am in Singapore), killed at least 11 people and injured 300 others.

Japan is now reeling from a deadly typhoon, the strongest in 25 years, that struck the west of the country last week, killing at least 10 people. "The elevator of my apartment stopped and I had to flee by the stairs to the first floor", said a 32-year-old man in the city.

Japanese rescue workers with bulldozers and sniffer dogs scrabbled through the mud on Friday (Sep 7) to find survivors from a landslide that buried houses after a powerful quake, as the death toll rose to 20.

He said utilities were starting up several other thermal and hydroelectric plants but even with those stopgap supplies thousands would still be without power for some time.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said 4,000 of Japan's Self-Defence Forces had been dispatched to help with recovery efforts, with around 20,000 more expected to join.

A strong magnitude 6.7 natural disaster rocked southwest of Hokkaido Island in the small hours on Thursday.

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"Without electricity, there's nothing I can do except to write prescriptions", a doctor in Abira, the town next to Atsuma, told NHK. ANA cancelled all morning flights but would resume operations as normal in the afternoon, a spokesman said.

Around 1.6 million households in the sparsely populated northern island of Hokkaido were still without power after the quake damaged a thermal plant supplying electricity to the region.

The quake, which hit at 3:08am local time, posed no tsunami risk, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The 6.7-magnitude quake struck early Thursday, centered about 17 miles east of Tomakomai on the island of Hokkaido at a depth of 21 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Rescuers were rushing to unearth survivors and restore power Thursday after a powerful quake jolted Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido, buckling roads, knocking homes off their foundations and causing entire hillsides to collapse.

The central government set up a crisis management taskforce at the prime minister's office.

The three reactors at the Tomari plant had switched to emergency backup generators to keep spent fuel safely cooled.

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He said forensic teams were on the scene and investigators were trying to piece together a timeline of events. Maria Manfredini, a long-term resident in the area, described the incident as "tragic on every level".

Local buses and trains and bullet train services were halted.

He urged residents to "to pay full attention to seismic activity and rainfall and not to go into risky areas".

Japan is situated on the "Ring of Fire" arc of volcanoes and oceanic trenches that partly encircles the Pacific Basin.

Japan is still recovering from its worst typhoon in 25 years, which struck the western part of the country on Tuesday, claiming at least 11 lives and causing major damage to an important airport. The quake set off a series of massive tsunami that devastated a wide swath of the Pacific coastline and killed almost 20,000.

The latest natural disaster hitting Japan during one of the country's most hard summers killed at least four people, with more than 30 still missing.

National broadcaster NHK aired footage of the moment the quake struck Muroran, with its camera violently shaking and all city lights going out a moment later.

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