A magnitude 6.7 earthquake has hit northern Japan near the major city of Sapporo, the US Geological Survey (USGS) reports , triggering dozens of landslides and frantic efforts to save survivors who may be trapped under collapsed buildings.
At least nine people were killed and 30 were unaccounted for following the quake, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, according to the Associated Press.
At least 366 people were injured, five of them seriously, when the earthquake hit just after 3 a.m. local time on Thursday.
The USGS said the earthquake struck the northern island of Hokkaido and had a depth of 33.4 kilometers (21 miles).
An aftershock measuring magnitude 5.3 hit the region just minutes after the first quake. No tsunami warning has been issued, according to Accuweather.
The quake’s epicenter was about 27.3 kilometers (17 miles) east of the city of Tomakomai, which has a population of about 175,000, and 64.8 kilometers (40.3 miles) southeast of Sapporo, which is a major metropolitan area of 1.9 million people.
Officials said the quake appeared to damage Hokkaido’s main power plant, leaving nearly 3 million households without power.
Blackouts also cut off water to homes, immobilized trains and airports, and shut down phone systems and roads.
— NHKニュース (@nhk_news) September 5, 2018
Japan’s trade minister said Thursday that restoring power will take at least a week.
The island’s only nuclear power plant switched on a backup generator to keep spent fuel cool. Nuclear regulators said there was no sight of abnormal radiation.
Atsuma Mayor Shoichiro Miyasaka said 28 people were missing in his town, and officials had emergency meals for up to 2,000 people prepared in shelters set up for people seeking refuges.
The Kyodo news service reports that in Tokyo, the central government set up a liaison unit at the crisis management center of the prime minister’s office to gather information on the temblor.
Prime Minister Abe said up to 25,000 troops and other personnel would be sent to Hokkaido for rescue operation assistance.
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) September 6, 2018