Quake hits northern Japan near major city

Cars sit on a road damaged by an earthquake in Sapporo Hokkaido northern Japan

Cars sit on a road damaged by an earthquake in Sapporo Hokkaido northern Japan

The death toll in Hokkaido grew to 16 on Friday after a magnitude-6.7 quake struck Japan's northernmost main island the previous day, and it is feared the figure will rise further with the government reporting 26 people are still missing.

The magnitude-6.7 quake struck southern Hokkaido at 3:08 a.m. Thursday (2:08 p.m. ET Wednesday) at a depth of about 25 miles, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

The magnitude 6.7 quake early Thursday unleashed scores of landslides that buried homes in avalanches of soil, rock and timber.

A fire that broke out at a Mitsubishi Steel Mfg Co plant in the city of Muroran after the quake was extinguished with no injuries. In nearby Sapporo, a mudslide hit a road, half-burying several cars.

Police search missing persons at the site of a landslide after an earthquake in Atsuma town Hokkaido northern Japan
Police search missing persons at the site of a landslide after an earthquake in Atsuma town Hokkaido northern Japan

It had been hoped that power would be restored in hours and some electricity gradually returned but damage to generators at the plant means it may take more than a week before it is back up, Mr Seko said.

The Japan Football Association (JFA) said they had taken the decision after considering the magnitude of damage that included widespread power outages and transportation disruptions, as well as spectator safety.

Houses in the town were hit by landslides, and one report said five residents were found with no vital signs.

"We've heard there are people still stuck under the mud, so we've been working around the clock but it's been hard to rescue them", a rescue worker in Atsuma told public broadcaster NHK. Kirin Brewery and Sapporo Breweries both said factories were shut by the power outage.

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In the town of Atsuma, where entire hillsides collapsed, rescuers used small backhoes and shovels to search for survivors under the tons of earth that tumbled down steep mountainsides, burying houses and farm buildings below. Residents of the island, which is the northernmost large island of Japan, were faced with building collapses as well as massive mudslides that buried many homes situated in a valley. Officials said the plant had enough fuel to operate the diesel generator for at least seven days.

It is also coordinating with the Hokkaido Prefectural Government Crisis Management Division, the DFA said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said about 25,000 self-defense troops are being sent to Hokkaido, with several thousand planning to help in search-and-rescue missions. (9505.T) aimed to bring more than 80 percent of the 2.95 million households back online by the end of Friday, industry minister Hiroshige Seko said.

The station's fuel rods are being cooled with emergency power supplied by diesel generators, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Thursday.

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Rescuers continued to search for survivors of a powerful quake on Japan's island of Hokkaido, as the death toll rose to 16.

The quake, which struck with a magnitude 6.7 in the early hours of Thursday morning, has left nearly three million households without electricity.

The tsunami also damaged the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, leading to a series of explosions and meltdowns in the world's worst nuclear disaster for 25 years.

Residents watch a road damaged by an quake in Sapporo, Hokkaido, northern Japan.

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