Magnitude 6.6 quake hits northern Japan

Magnitude 6.6 quake hits northern Japan

Landslides resulting from a preliminary magnitude 6.7 natural disaster early Thursday on Japan's Hokkaido island buried a "large" number of homes at the foot of a ridge, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Aerial footage showed dozens of landslides exposing barren hillsides near the town of Atsuma in southern Hokkaido, with mounds of reddish earth and toppled trees piled up at the edge of green fields. It also struck Hokkaido's prefectural capital of Sapporo, with a population of 1.9 million.

The Japanese national broadcaster NHK, citing its own tally, reported that 125 people were injured and almost 40 are feared missing.

The quake triggered a blackout across a wide area in Hokkaido.

Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said it would take "at least a week" for power to be restored to almost three million homes after a fire in the area's largest thermal plant was discovered.

Utility officials were starting up hydroelectric plants, Seko said, adding that he hoped to get power back "within a few hours".

See how the news unfolded here.

There were widespread power outages and blocked roads, NHK said, but no early reports of deaths.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said earlier it struck some 68km south-east of Sapporo, Hokkaido's main city, at a magnitude of 6.6.

Prime minister Shinzo Abe said the government has set up a command centre to coordinate relief and rescue, with 25,000 troops dispatched to the area. Kirin Brewery and Sapporo Breweries both said factories were shut by the power outage, although they said no structural damage was found.

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However, the fire was almost extinguished by 6:10 a.m. and no injuries or major damage were reported at the plant.

A fire broke out at a Mitsubishi Steel Mfg Co plant in the city of Muroran after the quake but was mostly extinguished with no injuries, a company official revealed.

Atsuma government officials said at least nine residents might be buried in their homes.

An aftershock measuring 5.3 rocked the area moments later and dozens of smaller aftershocks followed throughout the night.

There was no threat of a tsunami following the quake.

They warned residents about increased risks of collapse among buildings near the epicenter.

Sapporo, Japan: A magnitude 6.6 quake has hit northern Japan near a major city, according to the US Geological Survey.

A 6.7-magnitude quake rocked the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. At least 20 other people were injured in nearby towns, though their conditions were not immediately known.

The quake set off a massive tsunami that devastated a wide swathe of the Pacific coastline and eft almost 20,000 dead.

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