Strong natural disaster shakes northern Japan, does not pose tsunami threat to Hawaii

Grant Boone
September 6, 2018

The summer also brought devastating floods from torrential rains in Hiroshima and deadly hot temperatures across the country.

More than 100 people have been injured and 19 are missing since the quake struck, according to authorities.

Aerial footage showed dozens of landslides exposing barren hillsides near the town of Atsuma in southern Hokkaido, with mounds of reddish earth and toppled trees piled up at the edge of green fields. Officials told NHK at least five people were buried in the rubble. Some of the 40 people stranded there were airlifted to safer grounds, NHK said.

The quake, which struck at 3:08am this morning.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's chief cabinet secretary said officials are working to assess the damage and help those in need.

The quake also apparently sparked a fire at a steel plant in Muroran within the grounds of the Muroran Works of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp.

Almost 3 million buildings lost power after the quake rocked the island, NHK reported.

NHK showed a brick wall collapsed and broken glass in a home and quoted local police as reporting there had been power outages and some people trapped in collapsed structures. Independently owned power generators were assisting. Kirin Beer and Sapporo Beer both said factories were shut by the power outage, although they said no structural damage was found.

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Efforts to restore power to almost 3 million households were underway but it was not clear when supplies would be restored, a company spokesman said. However, that would leave a shortfall of roughly 900,000 kilowatts, causing inconveniences to many in Hokkaido.

Hokkaido Electric Power's Tomari Nuclear Power Plant has lost all external power sources, but six diesel power generators at the power station for emergencies can generate enough power to cool nuclear fuel in storage pools. Seven reactors have come back online after a protracted relicensing process.

The quake's impact was widespread. It may take a week to restore power fully to all residents, he said.

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

Atsuma government officials said at least nine residents might be buried in their homes.

A large landslide caused by an natural disaster is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun aircraft in the town of Atsuma, Hokkaido, on September 6, 2018.

Hokkaido Electric has shut down all fossil fuel plants, cutting power to all its almost 3 million customers, a spokesman said.

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. Power was knocked out across the island.

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