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

The 6.7 quake is the strongest recorded in Japan since 2016

STUFF The 6.7 quake is the strongest recorded in Japan since 2016

Aerial views showed dozens of landslides in the surrounding area, with practically every mountainside a raw slash of brown amid deep green forest.

At least seven people have died and dozens are trapped in their homes after a powerful natural disaster hit the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

The Japanese national broadcaster NHK, citing its own tally, reported that 125 people were injured and almost 40 are feared missing.

The collapsed remains of what appeared to be houses or barns were strewn about.

The Tomari nuclear power plant in Hokkaido, which was not operational before the quake, was forced to turn to emergency back-up power to keep its cooling system working, NHK said.

Hokkaido Electric said 2.95 million homes had lost power after the quake but industry minister Hiroshige Seko said the government hopes to restart power "in several hours". Buses and trains were also halted.

The quake triggered landslides that crushed homes in Atsuma.

Flights resumed from midday at Hokkaido's main airport, New Chitose, with more flights planned for the afternoon, airline officials said.

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More than 4,000 defence force soldiers have been deployed to help with rescue operations, CNN quoted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as saying.

The utility explained that a coal-fired thermal plant in Atsuma, the largest in Hokkaido, was heavily damaged in the quake.

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. It registered a strong 6 on Japan's 7-point quake scale.

"Please give your sympathy to people who spent a dark night in fear, and do everything you can to restore electricity as soon as possible", he instructed his ministers at an emergency cabinet meeting on Friday.

Around 20 people are missing in Atsuma town, near the earthquake's epicentre.

Japan is in the midst of a record tourism boom and will host the Olympics in 2020.

The Japan Football Association (JFA) said they had taken the decision after considering the magnitude of damage that included widespread power outages and transportation disruptions, as well as spectator safety.

NHK showed the moment the quake struck the city of Muroran, with its camera violently shaking and all city lights going black moment later.

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A series of smaller shocks, including one with a magnitude of 5.4, followed the initial quake, the JMA said.

Agency official Toshiyuki Matsumori warned residents to take precautions for potential major aftershocks in coming days.

The quake, which struck with a magnitude 6.7 in the early hours of Thursday morning, has left nearly three million households without electricity. 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.

Saturday marked the 95th anniversary of the Great Kanto quake, which had a magnitude of 7.9 and killed more than 140,000 people in the Tokyo area.

The outage also affected hospitals, subways, ATM money dispensers, and mobile phone networks.

On Japan's main island of Honshu, nine cities and towns issued compulsory evacuation orders.

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