Quake hits Hokkaido, destroying homes and roads, nine dead and 33 missing

The earth shook at 3.08 am. Power was cut. It will take a week before supplies are restored. This is strongest quake since 1996.

Sapporo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Mother nature continues to strike Japan. A 6.7 quake hit the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido destroying houses and causing landslides. At least nine people are dead and 33 are missing.

The quake hit the southern part of the island at 3.08 am at a depth of 37 kilometres, registering a 7 on Japan’s 7-point quake intensity scale.

Nearly 3 million households in the prefecture were left isolated, without power. In some areas the water supply was also cut.

Economy, Trade, and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said that it will likely take more than a week for the power supply to return to a level that can meet peak demand.

Electricity was cut after the Tomatoatsuma thermal power plant, which produces nearly half of the prefecture's electricity, stopped.

The facility was damaged by the tremor and attempts to restart it failed due to an oil leak.

No abnormality has been detected in radiation levels around the area’s main nuclear plant, which has been idle for a few years.

More than 120 people were hurt in areas including the prefectural capital Sapporo, and at least 2,400 people took shelter at evacuation centres.

This is the first time for a quake in Hokkaido to reach an intensity of upper 6 since the seismic scale was revised in 1996.

The earthquake is the latest in a series of natural disasters that hit the Japanese archipelago in the last few months. A few days ago, typhoon Jebi devastated the western part of ​​the country, and torrential rains caused havoc in July.