At least 7 dead, hundreds hurt after powerful quake hits Japan

At least seven people have died and more than 3 million homes have lost power on the northernmost island of Japan after a powerful earthquake hit, authorities said Thursday.

Mud covers vehicles on a destroyed street after a powerful earthquake and liquefaction in Sapporo, Hokkaido, northern Japan, on Thursday. Several people died and dozens were reported missing, officials said. Photo by Jiji Press/EPA-EFE
Mud covers vehicles on a destroyed street after a powerful earthquake and liquefaction in Sapporo, Hokkaido, northern Japan, on Thursday. Several people died and dozens were reported missing, officials said. Photo by Jiji Press/EPA-EFE

The 6.7-magnitude quake struck early Thursday, centered about 17 miles east of Tomakomai on the island of Hokkaido at a depth of 21 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Officials said there was no threat of a tsunami.

Japan has committed 25,000 rescuers to search Hokkaido, Japan’s second-largest island, where there are reports of 30 people missing and 300 injured.

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The quake triggered landslides that crushed homes in Atsuma. Aerial video showed stretches of mud and fallen trees swallowing homes and farm buildings.

Other footage showed mud flowing through crumbled roads and police officers directing traffic because traffic lights are out.

The quake forced an emergency shutdown of the Tomato Atsuma thermal power plant, creating an imbalance in the grid that caused other power plants to shut down.

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“It messed up my entire house. I’ve never experienced an earthquake like this,” an 87-year-old man in Atsuma, three miles from the epicenter, told The Japan Times, saying he used his weight to push a door open because the quake bent it.

“The shaking was so widespread that I couldn’t even prepare to flee,” another resident said.

The earthquake hit just two days after Japan experienced another natural disaster — Typhoon Jebi, the strongest storm to hit the country in 25 years. Officials say it killed at least 11 people.

ByNicholas Sakelaris