As rescue operations end in Hokkaido, death toll hits 40 with local diocese helping those in need

About 2,700 people are still in shelters. Electricity is back but still uneven. Some 8,000 homes are still without water. Bishop of Sapporo hopes things will get back to normal soon.

Sapporo (AsiaNews) – Some 40 people have lost their lives in the earthquake that hit the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan on 6 September, the government announced. For their part, rescue operations have stopped.

The 6.7 earthquake struck the island at 3.08 am last Thursday, destroying homes and infrastructures and leaving residents in the dark. At present, around 2,700 people are still in reception centres set up by the authorities.

The power supply has been restored but remains uneven. Hokkaido Prefecture and Hokkaido Electric Power Co. have urged residents to limit the use of electricity. Some 8,000 homes have been cut off from water supplies.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Church has moved to help people affected by the quake.

"I have given an order to open the parishes to welcome the victims, especially foreign travellers and people with different abilities,” Mgr Bernard Katsuya, bishop of Sapporo, told AsiaNews.

“The Diocesan centre will be open for people in need. At this moment, we are attending the emergencies,” he said on Saturday.

"Since the infrastructure has been rapidly restored, we hope that the present situation will go back to normal soon. We will need to organise long-time assistance such as assigning volunteers.”

At present, “aftershocks continue and people are trying to be ready by getting food and water.”