TOKYO, Sept 8, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – The death toll from a powerful quake that
triggered landslides in northern Japan rose to 35 Saturday, as tens of
thousands of rescue workers raked through the mud for survivors.
The majority of the dead are from the small rural town of Atsuma, where a
cluster of dwellings were wrecked when a hillside collapsed from the force of
the 6.6-magnitude quake, causing deep brown scars in the landscape. Public
broadcaster NHK said 35 were dead, with around five people still unaccounted
for in the town.
More than 600 sustained minor injuries, according to the Hokkaido island
“We never had landslides here,” said Akira Matsushita who lost his brother
“I couldn’t believe until I saw it with my own eyes,” he told TV Asahi.
“When I saw it, I knew no-one could survive.”
Some 40,000 rescue workers, including Self-Defense Forces drafted in
specially, were searching for survivors with the aid of bulldozers, sniffer
dogs and 75 helicopters, according to the top government spokesman.
“They’re doing their best around the clock,” Yoshihide Suga told
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he will meet quake survivors in Hokkaido on
Sunday, according to Jiji Press.
All three million households in Hokkaido lost power when Thursday’s quake
damaged a thermal plant supplying electricity to the region, but Abe said
power was mostly restored.
“Thanks to hard work to boost power supply throughout the night, the
number of households without power has declined to 20,000,” he told a cabinet
Abe said the government would release emergency funds to deliver food,
water and fuel needed for power generators at hospitals.
A total of 31,000 households still have no water and around 16,000 people
have evacuated to shelters.
The earthquake also collapsed a handful of houses and walls in the main
regional city of Sapporo but considering the strength of the quake, the death
toll was relatively light, with the majority of victims coming from the
landslide in Atsuma.
International flights at the main airport in Sapporo resumed operations on
Saturday, while bullet trains began service the day before.
The quake was the latest in a string of natural disasters to batter the
Western parts of the country are still recovering from the most powerful
typhoon to strike Japan in a quarter of a century, which claimed 11 lives and
shut down the main regional airport.
Japan sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where many of the world’s
earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded.
On March 11, 2011, a devastating 9.0-magnitude quake struck under the
Pacific Ocean, and the resulting tsunami caused widespread damage and claimed
thousands of lives.