Japan earthquake: At least 37 killed or missing after powerful M6.7 quake hits Hokkaido

At least 7 people were killed and more than 30 others are still missing and feared dead after a powerful M6.7 earthquake hit Hokkaido, Japan at 18:07 UTC on September 5 (03:07 JST, September 6). JMA says the earthquake measured 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale, the strongest possible level. Dozens of aftershocks were recorded.

The quake triggered over 800 landslides, caused widespread damage and left the entire Hokkaido Prefecture without power after the Tomato Atsuma thermal power plant in the city of Sunagawa stopped working. The massive power outage affected 2.95 million customers.

A large number of homes were wiped out in Atsuma, near the epicenter, leaving more than 30 people missing. Rescue workers are frantically searching for people buried in the rubble, NHK reports.

“In areas where shaking was strong, the danger of houses collapsing and landslides could be very high. Pay attention to upcoming seismic activity and rainfall. Don’t come into dangerous areas unless it’s necessary and be careful to look out for your own safety,” JMA’s Toshiyuki Matsumori said.

Aviation authorities canceled all flights at Hokkaido’s New Chitose Airport and local trains have stopped. Public bus services have also shut down and many highways have closed. Schools are also closed for the day, NHK said.

The extent of the damage is still being assessed but throughout the prefecture, buildings are tilted and roads are cracked and buckled.

Featured image credit: Kyodo