Thursday, September 6, 2018

Japan earthquake: landslide traps residents in homes

Warning of aftershocks as 10 injured in 6.6 earthquake on northern island of Hokkaido

A powerful earthquake of magnitude 6.6 left residents trapped inside their homes as a landslide blocked roads, engulfed buildings and led to widespread power cuts on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido in the early hours of Thursday.
A landslide along a long ridge in the rural town of Atsumi could be seen in aerial footage from the public broadcaster NHK. About 10 people had been taken to hospital with injuries, one of them serious, it said. Japanese media said two people had died and 32 were missing, but there were no official reports of fatalities.

The quake, which struck at 3.08 am local time did not pose a tsunami risk, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said. The US Geological Survey said it had struck around 68 km (42 miles) south-east of Sapporo, Hokkaido’s main city.
Prime minister Shinzo Abe told reporters his government had set up a command centre to coordinate relief and rescue. Saving lives was the top priority, he said.
The Tomari nuclear power station, shut since shortly after a massive 2011 earthquake was relying on emergency back up power after electricity was knocked out. The station reported no irregularities and its fuel rods were cooling safely in a pool, operator Hokkaido Electric Power Co told NHK. The atomic regulator said the diesel generators have enough fuel to last seven days.

A series of smaller shocks, including one with a magnitude of 5.4, followed the initial quake, the Meteorological Agency said. During an early morning news conference official Toshiyuki Matsumoriwarned residents to expect major aftershocks in the coming days.
Kazuo Kibayashi, 51, a town official at hard-hit Abira town, said: "There was a sudden, extreme jolt. I felt it went sideways, not up-and-down, for about two to three minutes."
“It stopped before shaking started again. I felt it come in two waves. I am 51, and I have never experienced anything like this. I thought my house was going to collapse. Everything inside my house was all jumbled up. I didn't have time to even start cleaning,” he said.
Japan, situated on the “ring of fire” arc of volcanos and oceanic trenches that partly encircles the Pacific Basin, experiences around 20% of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.
On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, the most powerful ever recorded in Japan, struck under the ocean off the coast of the northern city of Sendai. The quake set off a series of massive tsunami that devastated a wide swath of the Pacific coastline and killed nearly 20,000.
The tsunami also damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, leading to a series of explosions and meltdowns in the world’s worst nuclear disaster for 25 years.
Saturday marked the 95th anniversary of the Great Kanto earthquake, which had a magnitude of 7.9 and killed more than 140,000 people in the Tokyo area. Seismologists have said another such quake could strike the city at any time.
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