Japan: Two killed after 6.7-magnitude natural disaster hits Hokkaido island, triggers landslides

Japan: Two killed after 6.7-magnitude natural disaster hits Hokkaido island, triggers landslides

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.

Mountainsides collapsed in the town of Atsuma, crushing homes and farm buildings, and it is feared many people are trapped. The number missing had earlier been put at 19.

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. I thought my house was going to collapse.

Tomari nuclear plant on the island of Hokkaido has suffered main power outage and was forced to briefly switch to emergency generators following the 6.7 natural disaster, Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

Officials of Hokkaido Electric Power and the Nuclear Regulation Authority said the quake also severed all outside power sources to the Tomari nuclear power plant in Tomari, Hokkaido.

Utility officials are starting up hydro-power plants to help restart the main thermal plant, Seko said.

All trains across the island were halted.

This picture shows an aerial view of landslides in Atsuma town, Hokkaido prefecture on September 6, 2018, after an quake hit the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

The island's train system and its main New Chitose Airport has been shutdown.

More than 200 flights were canceled, affecting over 40,000 passengers, and the airport's operator said it does not yet know when it can reopen as it is unclear when power can be restored.

The island was also hit by the powerful Typhoon Jebi that made landfall on Tuesday.

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Kansai International Airport has been shut since Typhoon Jebi ripped through Osaka on Tuesday, although some domestic flights operated by Japan Airlines (JAL) (9201.T) and ANA's (9202.T) low-priced carrier Peach Aviation resumed on Friday, the carriers said.

A doctor in Abira, the town next to Atsuma said: "Without electricity, there's nothing I can do except to write prescriptions".

In Atsuma, it registered a 7 on Japan's 7-point quake intensity scale, the agency said, revising an earlier measurement.

Abe arrived at his office before 6am and told reporters his government had set up a command centre to coordinate relief and rescue. His voice sounding haggard, Abe said saving lives was his government's top priority.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that the authorities have received hundreds of calls about people missing and buildings collapsing.

The station's fuel rods are being cooled with emergency power supplied by diesel generators, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters on September 6.

It posed no tsunami risk, the country's meteorological agency said.

The blackout and landslides, triggered by the quake, paralyzed the island. Residents were warned to take precautions for potential major aftershocks in coming days.

Japan sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where numerous world's earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded. The disaster killed some 19,000 people, as well as knocked out power to and swamped backup generators at the Fukushima facility.

Houses destroyed by the landslide in Atsuma town.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said it would take at least a week to fully restore power to all communities due to damage at a thermal power plant at Tomato-Atsuma that supplies half of Hokkaido's electricity.

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