Magnitude-6.7 natural disaster rocks Japan

Magnitude-6.7 natural disaster rocks Japan

Residents charge their mobile phones in Sapporo. "I was on the sixth floor, it was really scary".

As efforts to restore power continue, available capacity will likely increase to around 2.90 million kilowatts through the restart of some hydropower and thermal power generation sources by the end of Friday - roughly 76 percent of Hokkaido's peak electricity demand registered on Wednesday.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko told reporters that the extensive power outage was caused by an emergency shutdown of the main thermal power plant that supply half of the electricity to all of Hokkaido.

Hokkaido's main aviation hub, New Chitose Airport, was reportedly shut for at least Thursday. The quake came on the heels of a typhoon that lifted heavy trucks off their wheels and triggered heavy flooding in western Japan, leaving the main airport near Osaka and Kobe closed after a tanker rammed a bridge connecting the facility to the mainland.

A quake measuring 6.7 on the Richter Scale struck the central-eastern part of the Iburi region in Hokkaido at around 3:08 on Thursday morning, around 40 miles south of Sapporo, where the fixture was slated to take place.

Video cameras showed cities going dark as the quake disabled power systems, leaving almost 3 million households on the island without electricity.

"We will devote all our energy to saving lives", Abe said.

The quake prompted Japan's Self-Defense Forces to cancel two joint military exercises in Hokkaido, including the first-ever drill with Australian fighter jets, and a training exercise with the U.S. Marine Corps. "The SDF is already deploying some 4000 troops for (rescue work), and it plans to strengthen the number to 25,000 troops".

Some 22,000 rescue workers had worked through the night to search for survivors, Abe told an emergency meeting on Friday.

Local news has reported a blackout across a wide area in Hokkaido.

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NHK footage showed a crumbled brick wall and broken glass in a home, and quoted police as saying some people were trapped in collapsed structures.

A series of smaller shocks, including one with a magnitude of 5.4, followed the initial quake, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.

Approximately 12 hours later, the power had been restored only to parts of Sapporo, Hokkaido's capital, and Asahikawa, its second-most populated city, a spokesperson for the power plant said.

The Japan Meteorological Agency warned of a slight sea level change in coastal areas as a result of the quake.

Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga added: "I urge people in areas shaken by strong quakes to stay calm, pay attention to evacuation information. and help each other".

Restoring full power across Japan's northern island of Hokkaido will take at least a week after a powerful natural disaster struck early in the day, damaging its largest fossil fuel power plant, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said on Thursday.

Three nuclear reactors were offline for routine safety checks at the time, but are now running on backup generators.

High winds smashed a tanker into a bridge, forced one of the country's largest airports to close and left at least 10 people dead.

The quake's epicenter was east of the city of Tomakomai.

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