Earthquake Strikes Hokkaido; Residents Buried by Landslides

An earthquake struck Hokkaido in the dark of the night triggering landslides and burying residents as they slept. One person has been confirmed dead. At least 125 people are injured and another 20 are missing.

The Japan Meteorological Agency reports the tremor, with an estimated magnitude of 6.7, hit shortly after 3am. The quake’s epicenter was east of Tomakomai, the large port city located about 70km south of Sapporo.

The rural town of Atsuma suffered the most damage as the ensuing landslides buried a large number of homes at the foot of a ridge. NHK World reports that all of the missing persons are from this town of about 4,600 residents. One death was reported in the town of Mukawa.

 

Power Down, Transportation Suspended

According to CNN, the Hokkaido Electric Power Company reported that nearly 3 million households lost power. All flights at New Chitose Airport and public transport across the Hokkaido region has been halted. Many roadways, even in Hokkaidos’ capital city of Sapporo, have large craters and cracks making travel impossible. Schools are closed for the day and hospitals are on emergency backup power.

The Tomari nuclear power plant in Hokkaido, which has been offline since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, is using emergency generators to cool fuel.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said 4,000 defense forces joined the rescue operations, and that number could increase to 25,000. Helicopter rescue crews have airlifted about 10 people to safety. Evacuation shelters have been set up throughout the region.

Residents are warned to take precautions as potential aftershocks pose a risk for the next week.

NHK will be streaming live in English throughout the day to update viewers on any related information.

If you’re in Hokkaido and need information in English, you can call Hokkaido Disaster Prevention Information at 011-204-5937 or 011-204-5092.

 

Typhoon Jebi Update

Thursday’s Hokkaido earthquake comes on the heels of Typhoon Jebi, the strongest typhoon to hit the Japanese mainland in 25 years, causing record-high tides and widespread flooding. At least 10 people died with hundreds more injured.

The storm inundated Osaka Prefecture on Tuesday. A fuel tanker hit by strong wind slammed into the bridge linking Kansai International Airport, which was built on a man-made island, to the mainland. About 3,000 stranded passengers were shuttled out of the airport by Wednesday night.

Prime Minister Abe reports Kansai International Airport will resume domestic flights by the end of Friday. A timeframe for when international flights will resume is undetermined.

Before it made landfall, the storm had sustained winds of 140 kilometers per hour and gusts of 165 kmh, the equivalent of a Category 1 Atlantic hurricane.

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