Quake halts all trains on Japan island

Strong earthquake strikes near Tomakomai in northern Japan

A magnitude 6.7 natural disaster has rocked the city of Sapporo in northern Japan.

A powerful quake shook Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido early Thursday, causing landslides that crushed homes, knocking out power across the island, and forcing a nuclear power plant to use a backup generator.

Two people had been killed and about 40 were missing, according to public broadcaster NHK.

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More than 4,000 defense force soldiers have been deployed to help with rescue operations, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, and that number could rise to 25,000 if needed.

This week, Typhoon Jebi brought more deaths to western Japan, knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of buildings and closed the Osaka region's main airport.

Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) officials said it was the largest quake to strike the district since records were first taken in 1923.

Aerial footage showed wrecked farm buildings at the bottom of a hill as rescue helicopters whirred overhead in a region already affected by the edge of a strong typhoon that ravaged parts of Japan earlier in the week.

"This decision was made upon careful evaluation of the magnitude of damages incurred, including damages to critical infrastructure such as power outages and significant transportation disruptions, as well as to ensure the security of all spectators, including the supporters of the visiting team".

An aftershock measuring 5.3 rocked the area moments later and dozens of smaller aftershocks followed throughout the night.




There is no tsunami risk, the US Geological Survey said.

Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, which was struck by a strong quake overnight, is a famed area for agriculture and open spaces that accounts for about 3.5 percent of the nation's economy.

Map locating the powerful 6.6 magnitude quake that hit the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

The three-reactor Tomari nuclear plant, operated by Hokkaido Electric Power and in shutdown since the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, lost power after a magnitude 6.7 quake hit the island in the early hours, the government said.

The government said there was damage to Hokkaido Electric's Tomato-Atsuma plant, which supplies half the island's 2.95 million households.

Thirty-three people were missing and around 120 people suffered minor injuries.

The quake also caused an entire blackout in the area, ... leaving millions without power.

The Japan Meteorological Agency warned of a slight sea level change in coastal areas as a result of the quake.

He urged residents to "to pay full attention to seismic activity and rainfall and not to go into risky areas".

Japan is situated on the "Ring of Fire" arc of volcanoes and oceanic trenches that partly encircles the Pacific Basin and accounts for about 20 percent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

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