Rescuers continue search for survivors after Japan quake

Source United States Geological Survey

Power to the island's five million residents was cut for a time and the Hokkaido Electric Power Co shut down all of its fossil fuel-fired power plants after the quake as a precaution for the first time since the it opened in 1951.

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.

Map locating the powerful 6.6 magnitude quake that hit the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

The government said there was damage to Hokkaido Electric's Tomato-Atsuma plant, which supplied half the island's 2.95 million households. "Hokkaido's power grid is small and the share of Tomato-Atsuma is large, so it must have been much a more hard a situation than after the big natural disaster that struck eastern Japan", said Tsutomu Oyama, professor of electrical engineering at Yokohama National University.

Television footage from the southeastern part of Sapporo showed crumbled roads and mud flowing onto a main street.

The quake left nearly 3 million people without power after damage to a major thermal plant supplying the region, with Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko saying it could take "at least a week" for supply to be restored.

Abe also warned residents to "exercise extreme caution" amid forecasts for more rain, which could cause further landslides, while officials warned of the dangers of more quakes. It registered a strong 6 on Japan's 7-point quake scale. Debris and water could be seen on the terminal floors.

The island, about the size of Austria, is a popular tourist destination known for its mountains, lakes and seafood.

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It can not be contracted by drinking or coming into physical contact with water containing the bacteria (such as while swimming). A cautionary warning has been issued to the people most at risk of contracting the disease to stay away from this area.


Kyodo news agency said more than 200 flights and 40,000 passengers would be affected on Thursday alone. Nuclear regulators said there was no sign of abnormal radiation - a concern after a massive quake and tsunami in March 2011 that hit northeast Japan destroyed both external and backup power to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, causing meltdowns.

New Chitose Airport also restarted services for domestic flights to and from the main gateway to Hokkaido, although many people were unable to secure seats.

The closure comes just days after Kansai Airport, another major regional hub, in western Japan, was shut by Typhoon Jebi, which killed 11 people and injured hundreds.

Manufacturers were still affected by power outages.

A fire broke out at a steel production facility at Mitsubishi Steel Manufacturing's joint venture with Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp in Muroran.

Moments after the initial quake, an aftershock measuring 5.3 rocked the area and dozens more aftershocks followed throughout the night and into the morning.

Japan sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where numerous world's earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded. Four people were in cardiopulmonary arrest, a term used before death is officially confirmed. "I felt it went sideways, not up-and-down, for about two to three minutes", said Kazuo Kibayashi, an official in hard-hit Abira.

The powerful quake and tsunami in March 2011 that hit northerneast Japan destroyed both external and backup power to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, causing meltdowns. Seismologists have said another such quake could strike the city at any time.

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