Sun, Sep 09, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Japan toll rises to 30 after earthquake


Japan Self-Defense Force personnel use a sniffer dog to search the site of a landslide near Atsuma, Hokkaido, Japan, on Friday.

Photo: EPA

The death toll from a powerful quake that triggered landslides in northern Japan yesterday rose to 30 as tens of thousands of rescue workers raked through the mud for survivors.

The majority of the dead were from the small rural town of Atsuma, where a cluster of dwellings were wrecked when a hillside collapsed from the force of the 6.7 magnitude quake, causing deep brown scars in the landscape.

About nine people were unaccounted for in the town and about 400 sustained minor injuries, according to the local government of the northern Hokkaido island.

“We never had landslides here,” said Akira Matsushita, who lost his brother in Atsuma.

“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.”

About 40,000 rescue workers, including Japan Self-Defense Force personnel specially drafted in, were searching for survivors with the aid of bulldozers, sniffer dogs and 75 helicopters, Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said.

“They’re doing their best around the clock,” Suga told reporters.

All 3 million households on Hokkaido island lost power when Thursday’s quake damaged a thermal plant supplying electricity to the region, but Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo 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,” Abe told a Cabinet meeting to discuss the quake.

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 were without water and about 16,000 people were 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 those killed coming from the landslide in Atsuma.

International flights at the main airport in Sapporo resumed operations yesterday, while bullet trains began services the day before.

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