Abe checks quake-hit Hokkaido

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 10 Sep 2018

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the earthquake-hit northern region of Hokkaido yesterday as more deaths were confirmed, taking the toll to 42.

Abe toured the commercial hub of Sapporo, where Thursday's 6.6-magnitude jolt has left houses tilted and roads cracked, before taking a helicopter ride to view the devastation in Atsuma, the small rural town that suffered most of the deaths.

A cluster of dwellings in the town were wrecked when a hillside collapsed from the force of the quake, creating deep brown scars in the landscape.

Abe's visit came as search-and-rescue operations continued around the clock to find two missing people.

The death toll was announced by the Hokkaido government, while a regional disaster management official said: "There has been on-and-off rain at Atsuma. But the search for the missing continues."

The central government sent thousands of rescue workers, including personnel from the Self-Defense Force, to help look for the missing two with the aid of sniffer dogs and helicopters.

All three million households in Hokkaido lost electricity when the quake damaged a thermal plant.

Power was close to being restored fully by last night, but authorities appealed to residents and businesses to save energy as electricity supplies were rated as unstable.

The earthquake was the latest in a string of natural disasters to batter Japan. Western parts of the country are still recovering from the most powerful typhoon to hit in 25 years on September 4. That took 11 lives.

And Japan has yet to get over the horrific 9.0-magnitude quake that struck under the Pacific Ocean on March 11, 2011, with the resulting tsunami claiming thousands of lives and causing massive damage.

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