Japan earthquake: Buildings collapse, dozens injured & missing

A large-scale rescue operation is underway on the Japanese island of Hokkaido after a 6.7 earthquake triggered several landslides that swallowed a number of houses, injuring and trapping people inside.

The rural town of Atsumi has been devastated after a chunk of a mountain ridge slid and covered several houses, aerial footage by NHK broadcaster showed.

At least 10 people were airlifted to the hospital while others remain missing, potentially trapped in collapsed structures.

Besides Atsumi, a number of mudslides occurred along Route 235, according to local media.

So far, two people have been confirmed dead, including a man in his 80s who died from cardiac arrest, NHK reports.

Another 143 people have been injured, while 38 remain missing after a 6.7 earthquake hit Hokkaido, causing widespread damage.

Most of the injuries (87 people) came from Sapporo, a major metropolitan area of 1.9 million people.

Addressing the nation, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that a crisis management centre has been set up and first responders are doing everything to save lives.

To help deal with the crisis, an additional 21,000 SDF soldiers will be deployed, the prime minister said. Right now, disaster relief is being handled by 4,000 Self Defense Forces personnel.

The quake triggered widespread power outages that affected nearly three million houses. Hokkaido Electric Power Co. said its thermal power plants shut down, and that it was urgently working to resolve the issue.

The quake also paralysed air and rail traffic on the island. New Chitose Airport will remain closed all day Thursday after experiencing blackouts, the ministry of land, infrastructure and transport, said.

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The Hokkaido Electric Railway and the Donan Isasiri Railway also stopped service on all lines due to the power outage.

SOURCE: rt.com

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