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7 Dead, Dozens Missing in Hokkaido Quake

6.7 quake caused landslides, blackout
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 6, 2018 1:20 AM CDT
Updated Sep 6, 2018 2:41 AM CDT
A police officer controls the traffic during a blackout following a strong earthquake in Sapporo, northern Japan early Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018.   (Hiroki Yamauchi/Kyodo News via AP)
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(Newser) – Rescuers are rushing to unearth survivors and restore power after a powerful earthquake jolted Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido, buckling roads, knocking homes off their foundations and causing entire hillsides to collapse. Residents in Sapporo were shaken from their beds when the magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck southern Hokkaido at 3:08am, the AP reports. Video cameras showed cities going dark as the quake disabled power systems, leaving nearly 3 million households on the island without electricity. The island's only nuclear power plant, which was offline, switched to a backup generator to keep its spent fuel cool, and nuclear regulators said there was no sign of abnormal radiation.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that seven people had been confirmed dead. Disaster officials in Hokkaido said about 30 people were unaccounted for. Rescuers are sifting through tons of soil, rocks, and timber in hopes of finding survivors in the town of Atsuma, where steep mountainsides collapsed, crushing homes and farm buildings. Japan is used to dealing with disasters, but the last few months have brought a string of calamities. The quake came on the heels of a typhoon that wreaked havoc in western Japan. The summer also brought devastating floods in Hiroshima and deadly hot temperatures across the country.

(Read more Japan earthquake stories.)

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