A powerful earthquake of magnitude 6.7 on early Thursday shook wide areas on Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, triggering landslides and leaving nearly 3 million households in dark, said sources.
Lost power supply had forced a nuclear power plant nearby to go on a backup generator, it said.
‘Power was knocked out for Hokkaido’s 2.9 million households, and extensive power outages was caused by an emergency shutdown of the main thermal power plant that supply half of the electricity to all of Hokkaido, said Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Sego.
According to Japan’s Meteorological Agency, the quake struck southern Hokkaido at 3:08 on early Thursday, at the depth of 40 kilometers (24miles).
“Three reactors at the Tomari nuclear plant were offline, but they are running on backup generators after losing external power because of the island-wide blackouts that also caused power loss at all 2.9 million households and disrupted traffic,” Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said.
At least 76 people were reportedly injured and 19 others were missing, said the sources.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that the authorities have received hundreds of calls about people missing and buildings collapsing. Officials are doing their utmost for the search and rescue while they assess the extent of damage, he said.
According to officials, crisis management taskforce at the prime minister’s office has been set up in order to response the immediate rescue and relief work.
“Around 4,000 self-defence troops are being deployed on Hokkaido to join search and rescue operations. Another 20,000 more will send to the affected sites”, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
The earthquake also affected telephone service and television broadcasting in Sapporo, it said.
The powerful quake comes the day after typhoon Jebi swept across Japan’s main island, killing at least eleven people and injured scores more.
(With inputs from agencies)