TOKYO, Sept 7 2018 : The death toll from a powerful earthquake that rattled the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido doubled to at least 16, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said today, with more than half the island’s 5.3 million residents still without power.
The 6.7-magnitude quake, which hit before dawn yesterday, triggered landslides that buried houses and paralyzed Hokkaido with widespread power and transport cuts.
Another 26 people were missing, disaster management authorities said.
(For a graphic on Japan quake click, tmsnrt.rs/2oJz6zd)
The island, a tourist destination about the size of Austria known for its mountains, lakes and seafood, lost all power after the quake when Hokkaido Electric Power Co shut its fossil fuel-fired power plants as a precaution.
The utility had restored power to about 1.31 million of 2.95 million customers by early today, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said. It could take at least a week to restore power fully, Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko has said.
The quake was the second disaster to hit Japan this week alone after a summer during which the country has been battered by deadly typhoons, flooding and a record heat wave.
At Hokkaido’s main airport, New Chitose, JAL was preparing to restart some flights from around 11:00 a.m. (0200 GMT) today, a spokesman said. ANA canceled all morning flights but would resume operations as normal in the afternoon, a spokesman said.
JR Hokkaido planned to resume bullet train operations from midday. It was also trying to resume other train services this afternoon, a spokesman said.
However, manufacturers were still being affected by power outages.
Toyota Motor Corp’s Tomakomai factory, which makes transmissions and other parts, said operations remained suspended indefinitely until power was restored, a spokesman said.
Toppan Printing’s operations at a plant in Chitose, which makes food packages, would remain suspended until it regained power, a spokesman said.