Japan quake death toll reaches 9, expected to rise

Japan earthquake map

About 26 people were still unaccounted for in the small northern countryside town of Atsuma, where a cluster of dwellings were wrecked when a hillside collapsed with the force of the 6.7-magnitude quake, causing deep brown scars in the landscape.

Around 1.6 million households in sparsely populated Hokkaido were still without power after the quake damaged a thermal plant supplying half the electricity to the region.

The quake's epicenter is about 27.3 kilometers (17 miles) east of the city of Tomakomai, which has a population of about 175,000, and 64.8 kilometers (40.3 miles) southeast of Sapporo, which is a major metropolitan area of 1.9 million people.

Television footage from Sapporo showed crumbled roads and mud covering a main street.

People look at an area damaged by an quake in Sapporo in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo September 6, 2018. "All the traffic lights are out and there's no power at work".

The Japan Meteorological Agency said that more bad weather could be on the way for Hokkaido and urged people to be vigilant for landslides, high tides and heavy rain.

Hokkaido's main airport is closed, at least for the day.

The island, about the size of Austria, is a popular tourist destination known for its mountains, lakes and seafood. More than 200 flights and 40,000 passengers would be affected, Kyodo News agency said.

Regions in the west are still recovering from the most powerful typhoon to strike in a quarter of a century, one that claimed 11 lives and shut down the main regional airport.

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Farming, tourism and other services are big economic drivers on Hokkaido, which accounts for just 3.6 percent of Japan's gross domestic product, but there is some industry.

The Tomari Nuclear Power Station, which has been shut since a 2011 quake and tsunami, suffered a power outage but officials said it was cooling its spent nuclear fuel safely.

"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".

A fire broke out at a steel production facility at Mitsubishi Steel Manufacturing's joint venture with Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp in Muroran.

Residents queue up for drinking water at an elementary school in Takatsuki, Osaka, June 18, 2018, after a strong quake hit the area during the morning rush hour.

Authorities have warned of possible aftershocks and urged people to remain cautious.

Japan sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where numerous world's earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded.

A 9.0 magnitude natural disaster, the most powerful ever recorded in Japan, struck on March 11, 2011, off its northeastern coast, triggering a tsunami that devastated communities along the Pacific coast and killed almost 20,000 people. "I felt it went sideways, not up-and-down, for about two to three minutes", said Kazuo Kibayashi, an official in hard-hit Abira.

At least nine people were killed, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

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