Magnitude 6.6 quake hits Japan's Hokkaido island

Magnitude 6.6 quake hits Japan's Hokkaido island

The quake's epicenter is 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. Operator Hokkaido Electric reported no radiation irregularities at the plant, Suga told a news conference. He did not give details.

Japan's hot northern hemisphere summer also brought deadly hot temperatures and devastating downpours from moisture-laden air masses over Hiroshima.

Japanese broadcaster NHK reported that helicopter crews are carrying out rescue operations...but dozens are still missing. Hokkaido's local disaster agency put the number of injured at 48.

Around 26 people are still unaccounted for in the small countryside town of Atsuma, where a cluster of dwellings were wrecked when a hillside collapsed with the force of the 6.6-magnitude quake, causing deep brown scars in the landscape.

Buildings destroyed by a landslide block a road after an quake in Atsuma town, Hokkaido, northern Japan, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018.

There were widespread power outages and blocked roads, NHK said, but no early reports of deaths.

Aerial footage showed rescuers with dogs walking through the destruction.

Thursday's natural disaster comes as much of Japan is still dealing with the effects of Typhoon Jebi, the strongest such storm to hit the Japanese mainland in 25 years. NHK showed workers rushing to clean up shattered glass and reinstall ceiling panels that had fallen in the region's biggest airport at Chitose.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed officials to ascertain the extent of damage and extend a helping hand to those affected.

Emergency shutdowns at fossil fuel-fired power plants cut electricity to the entire island - the size of Austria - leaving all trains, including high-speed services, halted, said Hokkaido Railway Co. Independently owned power generators were assisting.

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Japan idled all of its 54 nuclear power facilities after the incident, but seven have since been reactivated "after a protracted relicensing process", Reuters wrote.

The quake left nearly 3 million people without power after damage to a major thermal plant supplying the region, with Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko saying it could take "at least a week" for supply to be restored.

The government said there was damage to Hokkaido Electric's Tomato-Atsuma plant, which supplies half the island's 2.95 million households. However, that would leave a shortfall of roughly 900,000 kilowatts, causing inconveniences to many in Hokkaido.

Hokkaido Electric Power officials said they had no idea when operations would resume but were working to start up a hydroelectric plant to resume supplying electricity.

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

"Only a few cartons of instant ramen were left", said Mika Takeda, who lives in the town of 10,000.

One village resident said: "It was horrendous".

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

Six emergency diesel generators were being used to cool spent nuclear fuel stored in a pool at the plant. Operator Hokkaido Electric Power Co reported no radiation irregularities at the plant, which has been shut since shortly after a massive 2011 quake, Suga told a news conference.

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