A powerful earthquake has triggered a landslide that engulfed houses on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, television footage shows, injuring and trapping dozens of people and cutting power to millions.
At least 19 missing, 120 injured
Nearly 3 million households without power
Nuclear plant suffers power outage
A landslide along a long ridge in the rural town of Atsuma could be seen in aerial footage from public broadcaster NHK.
A government spokesman said two people were killed.
At least 32 people were missing and 120 were injured in Hokkaido after the magnitude 6.7 quake, NHK said.
Japan’s Hokkaido Electric Power said it conducted an emergency shutdown of all its fossil fuel-fired power plants after the quake, leading to blackouts across Hokkaido.
Efforts to restore power to nearly 3 million households were underway but it was not clear when supplies would be restored, a company spokesman said.
Japan’s Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said the ministry instructed Hokkaido Electric Power to restart the coal-fired Tomato-Atsuma power plant within a few hours.
Roof tiles and water covered floors at Hokkaido’s main airport, New Chitose Airport, which would be closed for at least the rest of the day.
Kansai Airport, an important hub for companies exporting semiconductors in western Japan, remained closed due to a powerful typhoon earlier this week.
Cooling rods safe at nuclear plant
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said officials hope to reopen Kansai Airport for domestic flights tomorrow.
The quake, which struck at 3:08am (local time) posed no tsunami risk, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
Earthquake science explained
The seeds of an earthquake lie in the tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s surface and on which the continents sit.
The US Geological Survey said it struck about 68 kilometres south-east of Sapporo, Hokkaido’s main city.
Mr Abe said his Government had set up a command centre to coordinate relief and rescue and said saving lives was the top priority.
The Tomari Nuclear Power Station suffered a power outage but was cooling its fuel rods safely with emergency power, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
Operator Hokkaido Electric Power reported no radiation irregularities at the plant, which has been shut since shortly after a massive 2011 earthquake, Mr Suga said.
A fire broke out at a Mitsubishi Steel plant in the city of Muroran after the quake but was mostly extinguished with no injuries, a company official said.
A row of houses could be seen slanting at odd angles, leaning against one another in one town, and many schools were closed, NHK said.
A series of smaller shocks, including one with a magnitude of 5.4, followed the initial quake, the Meteorological Agency said.
Agency official Toshiyuki Matsumori warned residents to take precautions for potential major aftershocks in coming days.
feature video -NHK news