A large-scale rescue operation is underway on the Japanese island of Hokkaido after a powerful 6.7 earthquake triggered several landslides that swallowed a number of houses, injuring and trapping people inside.
The rural town of Atsumi has been partially devastated after a chunk of a mountain ridge slid and covered several houses, aerial footage by NHK broadcaster showed. At least 10 people were airlifted to the hospital, while some remain trapped in collapsed structures.
Besides Atsumi, a number of mudslides occurred along the Route 235, according to local media. At least four people sustained injuries in Chitose, while another injury was reported in Ishikari. At least two people were wounded in Hakodate, and two in Yuni. A 92-year-old woman was also injured in the town of Kuriyama.
Damage from the 6.7 earthquake which struck Japan just after 3am local time was also reported in Tomakomai city, where according to police more than a dozen households were affected.
— NHKニュース (@nhk_news) September 5, 2018
A number of houses collapsed on the island, but there were no immediate reports of casualties directly caused by the earthquake. However, a man in his 80s has suffered a cardiac arrest in Tomakomai city, local media reports.
Addressing the nation, Prime Minister Abe said that a crisis management center has been set up, and reassured the public that first responders are doing everything to save human lives.
The quake triggered widespread power outages that affected nearly three million houses. Hokkaido Electric Power Co. said its thermal power plants shut down, and that it was urgently working to resolve the issue.
The quake also paralyzed air and rail traffic on the island. New Chitose Airport is to remain closed all day Thursday after experiencing blackouts, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, said. The Hokkaido Electric Railway and the Donan Isasiri Railway also stopped service on all lines due to the power outage.
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