Japan toll rises to 35 after powerful quake

Photo: AFP

The death toll from a powerful quake that triggered landslides in northern Japan rose to 35 Saturday, as tens of thousands of rescue workers raked through the mud for survivors.

The majority of the dead are from the small rural town of Atsuma, where a cluster of dwellings were wrecked when a hillside collapsed from the force of the 6.6-magnitude quake, causing deep brown scars in the landscape.

Public broadcaster NHK said 35 were dead, with around five people still unaccounted for in the town.

Japan toll rises to 30 after powerful quake

The death toll from a powerful quake that triggered landslides in northern Japan rose to 30 Saturday, as tens of thousands of rescue workers raked through the mud for survivors.

The majority of the dead are from the small rural town of Atsuma, where a cluster of dwellings were wrecked when a hillside collapsed from the force of the 6.6-magnitude quake, causing deep brown scars in the landscape.

Around nine people are still unaccounted for in the town and around 400 sustained minor injuries, according to the local government of the northern Hokkaido island.

"We never had landslides here," said Akira Matsushita who lost his brother in Atsuma.

"I couldn't believe until I saw it with my own eyes," he told TV Asahi. "When I saw it, I knew no one could survive."

Some 40,000 rescue workers, including Self-Defense Forces drafted in specially, were searching for survivors with the aid of bulldozers, sniffer dogs and 75 helicopters, according to the top government spokesman.

"They're doing their best around the clock," Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

All three million households on Hokkaido island lost power when Thursday's quake damaged a thermal plant supplying electricity to the region, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said power was mostly restored.

Photo: AP

"Thanks to hard work to boost power supply throughout the night, the number of households without power has declined to 20,000," Abe told a cabinet meeting to discuss the quake.

Abe added the government would release emergency funds to deliver food, water and fuel needed for power generators at hospitals.

A total of 31,000 households still have no water and around 16,000 people have evacuated to shelters.

The earthquake also collapsed a handful of houses and walls in the main regional city of Sapporo but considering the strength of the quake, the death toll was relatively light, with the majority of victims coming from the landslide in Atsuma.

International flights at the main airport in Sapporo resumed operations on Saturday, while bullet trains began service the day before.

The quake was the latest in a string of natural disasters to batter the country.

Western parts of the country are still recovering from the most powerful typhoon to strike Japan in a quarter of a century, which claimed 11 lives and shut down the main regional airport.

Japan sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where many of the world's earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded.

On March 11, 2011, a devastating 9.0-magnitude quake struck under the Pacific Ocean, and the resulting tsunami caused widespread damage and claimed thousands of lives.

Toll from Japan quake rises to 18 as hopes fade for survivors

Japanese rescue workers with bulldozers and sniffer dogs scrabbled through the mud Friday to find survivors from a landslide that buried houses after a powerful quake, as the death toll rose to 18.

Around 22 people are still unaccounted for in the small northern 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.

"We've heard there are people still stuck under the mud, so we've been working around the clock but it's been difficult to rescue them," a Self-Defense Forces serviceman in Atsuma told public broadcaster NHK.

"We will take measures to find them quickly."

An elderly woman in Atsuma told NHK: "My relative is still buried under the mud and has not been found yet, so I couldn't sleep at all last night. There were also several aftershocks so it was a restless night."

Around 1.6 million households in the sparsely populated northern island of Hokkaido were still without power after the quake damaged a thermal plant supplying electricity to the region.

Industry minister Hiroshige Seko said that number should be reduced to 550,000 households on Friday.

"It will take about a week" before the largest thermal power plant recovers, "so during that period, we are sending power-generating vehicles to hospitals," Seko told reporters.

He urged citizens to conserve energy by having fewer lights on in shops and restaurants and "for example family members staying together in one room".

Some 22,000 rescue workers including troops called up from the Self-Defense Forces handed out emergency water supplies and long lines formed at petrol stations and supermarkets, as people stocked up fearing further quakes.

"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," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a cabinet meeting to discuss the quake.

Photo: AFP

The earthquake, which scored the maximum on a Japanese scale measuring the power of a quake's shaking, also collapsed a handful of houses and walls in the main city of Sapporo.
However, considering the strength of the quake, the death toll was relatively light, with the majority of victims coming from the landslide in Atsuma.

Japan quake, landslides leave at least 9 dead

Devastating landslides caused by a powerful 6.6-magnitude earthquake in northern Japan claimed at least nine lives on Thursday, with dozens still missing as homes were engulfed.

Multiple, large-scale landslides struck the sparsely populated countryside, which was also hit by the edge of a powerful typhoon that surged through Japan earlier this week.

Aerial views showed dozens of houses destroyed at the bottom of a hill, with a rescue helicopter winching a resident to safety.

Around three million homes lost power after the quake damaged a major thermal plant supplying the region.

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