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At least 2 dead, dozens missing after major quake strikes Japan

At least 2 dead, dozens missing after major quake strikes Japan

A landslide along a long ridge in the rural town of Atsumi could be seen in aerial footage from public broadcaster NHK.

The toll could rise as the Japanese national broadcaster NHK reported that 125 people were injured and almost 40 are feared missing. The number missing had earlier been put at 19.

The quake also caused an entire blackout in the area, ... leaving millions without power. The collapsed remains of what appeared to be houses or barns were scattered about.

The Hokkaido Electric Power Company said close to three million households have lost power.

Seko said utilities were planning to start up several other thermal and hydroelectric plants to provide at least some power.

All trains across the island, which is about the size of Austria, were also halted.

Japan mobilized 20,000 rescue workers on Hokkaido on Thursday after being wracked by a magnitude-6.7 quake just south of Sapporo, Hokkaido island's main city, and multiple aftershocks.

The island's train system and its main New Chitose Airport has been shutdown. However, damage to generators at the Tomato Atsuma plant meant that a full restoration of power could take more than a week, Seko said.

Japan is now reeling from a deadly typhoon, the strongest in 25 years, that struck the west of the country last week, killing at least 10 people.

Domestic flights would resume Friday from Kansai, said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Water and mud covers the road in Hokkaido Japan. Pic @TAKA_RR
Image Dozens are feared to be trapped. Pic @TAKA_RR

Smaller aftershocks continued and the Japan Meteorological Agency warned that earthquakes with a similar intensity could continue in the area for about a week.

No tsunami warning was issued after the relatively shallow quake, which struck 62 kilometres (39 miles) southeast of the regional capital Sapporo.

The central government set up a crisis management taskforce at the prime minister's Office. Sounding haggard, Abe said saving lives was his government's top priority. A total of 26 people went missing or were unaccounted for in Atsuma, which was hit by major landslides.

Japan is in the midst of a record tourism boom and will host the Olympics in 2020.

A fire broke out at a Mitsubishi Steel Mfg Co plant in the city of Nemuro but has largely been brought under control, NHK said, quoting local officials.

The natural disaster, which scored the maximum on a Japanese scale measuring the power of a quake's shaking, also collapsed a handful of houses and walls in the main city of Sapporo. Seventeen homes were reported damaged in Atsuma, three in Abira, two in Mukawa and one in Tomakomai.

Japan is one of the world's most seismically active nations and accounts for around 20% of quakes worldwide of magnitude 6.0 or more.

The quake also caused a chain reaction that led to a power outage at all 2.95 million households in Hokkaido, officials of Hokkaido Electric Power Co. said. At least seven people were confirmed dead, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

Houses destroyed by the landslide in Atsuma town.

The quake left nearly 3 million people without power after damage to a major thermal plant supplying the region, with Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko saying it could take "at least a week" for supply to be restored.

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