Rescuers are starting a race against time after the 6.6 magnitude of earthquake that hit the northern island of Hokkaido in northern Japan on Thursday morning. At least 18 people were killed and some 300 people were injured according to the report till now.
Efforts continued at an accelerated pace from Friday to find survivors among people those are buried in landslides in northern Japan after a powerful 6.6 magnitude of earthquake. This new disaster caused huge landslides and a general power cut.
It is the village of Atsuma, nestled in the green mountains of the island of Hokkaido, which paid the heaviest tribute to the disaster with 14 deaths in the early hours Friday. The postcard landscape was ravaged by landslides that engulfed the houses built below, leaving deep brown scars along the mountainsides.
All night long, rescuers struggled with diggers and dogs in search of breath of life, a task complicated by a series of aftershocks.
“Many people are still buried under the earth, we work tirelessly but the rescue efforts are difficult,” said a soldier of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), interviewed by the NHK television channel. “We will do our best to find them quickly,” he added. “It was terrible, the earth hurtled down and I thought I was going to die,” said one resident.
The quake occurred in the middle of the night on the northern island of Hokkaido, 62 km southeast of Sapporo. It comes as the archipelago is just recovering from the passage of the very powerful Typhoon Jebi that killed eleven people in the region of Osaka (west).
Aerial views show mountains literally cut in half by impressive landslides that tore up all trees and engulfed houses built below as evidenced by this video tweeted by the site meteo-villes.com .
Les catastrophes naturelles se succèdent au #Japon – #Séisme à #Hokkaido provoquant 7 morts & 32 disparus selon un bilan provisoire – Nombreux glissements de terrain – Suivi des dernières informations via Japan Times : https://t.co/G2ZqNGueny – Vidéo : https://t.co/o0zLxdR2Ce pic.twitter.com/5w91Dau2Q1
— Météo Villes (@Meteovilles) September 6, 2018
Firefighters have lifted some of the residents by helicopters, but 22 people remain missing, according to the NHK public television channel. Backhoes and chainsaws are there to clear the land and clear the way for relief in trees covering entire neighborhoods and access roads. Soldiers of the self-defense forces have arrived on the spot to participate in the rescue operations: a total of 25,000 men are expected.
“My daughter, who is in high school, was terrified”
“I was woken up a little after 3 am by the shaking of the ground. I turned on the light but it went out right after ” due to a power outage, says Akira Fukui, a resident of Sapporo.
“There was a sudden, extreme jolt. I felt it… for a very long time, it stopped and then it started shaking again. I’m 51 years old and I’ve never had such an experience before, ” says Kazuo Kibayashi, a city official from Abira. “I thought my house was going to collapse, everything was upside down ,” he said. “My daughter, who is in high school, was terrified. ”
Shelters have been opened in the various affected areas. Long queues have formed near service stations, supermarkets. People in the Sapporo region are in fear for the lack of supplies.
The jolts, with such a force that it was impossible to stand up, according to the weather agency, also caused water cuts. Soldiers have deployed tanker trucks to ward off the most urgent water shortage.
Officials cautioned against the risk of new earthquakes. “Heavy secondary shocks often occur within two to three days, ” said Toshiyuki Matsumori, the tsunami and earthquake monitoring officer at the weather agency. “There is an increased risk of housing collapse and landslides in areas that have experienced severe shocks,” he warned.
After a power outage due to the shutdown of all power plants in the region, electricity could be restored on Friday morning for 1.3 million homes and other customers, or 40% of the population of the island, according to the Hokkaido Electric Power Company. Nearly 3 million people had been plunged into darkness in the wake of the earthquake.
Transportation was gradually returning to normal: Sapporo airport was once again welcoming passengers after the cancellation of all flights from Thursday, that is more than 200 flights cancelled totally till now.
Shinzo Abe warned against the risk of mudslides, while precipitation was expected over the region.