Deadly Earthquake Hits Japan

Source: BBCAl Jazeera 

A powerful earthquake has hit Hokkaido in northern Japan, damaging towns and cutting power to millions across the island. Three reactors at the Tamari nuclear plant were running on backup generators, and landslides were triggered in a dense forest on the mountainside of a rural town, covering homes. One day after the quake, some 1.6 million residents across Hokkaido remain without power, and dozens are still missing.  

The earthquake, measured to be a 6.7 on the earthquake magnitude scale, struck early on Thursday morning. Thousands of people spent the night in evacuation centers. Among the hardest hit was the village of Atsuma, a rural town destroyed by huge landslides. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed the deaths of 16 individuals, though 26 remain missing. Several hundred people are expected hurt, but it is difficult to assess the scope of injury.  

Authorities have said it could take at least one week to restore power lines to the sparsely populated and developed countryside in the northern part of the island. Additionally, bad weather is expected over the next five days. Officials are warning residents to remain cautious and prepare for aftershocks. The island’s main airport resumed flights on Friday, and train services are scheduled to restart before the weekend. 

This large earthquake did not only affect residents of rural communities. It hit several manufacturers on the island, including a Toyota plant, which has lost power. Additionally, the soccer match between Japan and Chile, which was scheduled for 9/7, has been called off. The government has deployed thousands of troops to help with the rescue operation. This earthquake comes on the heels of Typhoon Jebi, the most powerful storm to hit the island in 25 years.  

Japan is one of the world’s most seismically active countries, accounting for around 20 percent of earthquakes worldwide with a magnitude of 6.0 or more.