Japan Earthquake: Hokkaido Quake Triggers Landslide, Blackout—What We Know So Far

A magnitude 6.7 earthquake hit Hokkaido, Japan, on Wednesday, collapsing buildings, causing landslides and killing several people. Authorities expected the death toll to rise as they continued to search for those who remained missing.

The quake hit around 3 a.m. local time, southeast of Sapporo, at a depth of about 45 miles. Here's what we know so far about the earthquake and its aftermath.

Initial Earthquake

The United States Geological Survey confirmed the magnitude 6.7 earthquake hit four miles from Atsuma, in Hokkaido, Japan. The earthquake hit around 3 a.m. local time, southeast of the capital Sapporo. A series of smaller aftershocks also hit the region. No tsunami alert was issued following the quake.

According to the Richter Scale, used to measure the severity of earthquakes, a magnitude 7 earthquake is described as "major," occurring every 50 years or so, with sudden and severe movements. The Richter Scale ranges from magnitude 1 to 10, with each level 10 times stronger than the previous one.

Blackout

The earthquake triggered a blackout on the island of Hokkaido, cutting power for some 5.3 million people. Officials said it could be a week until power is fully restored, as officials contended with damage from the quake, Reuters reported.

Amid the blackout, the Tomari nuclear power plant on Hokkaido was forced to rely on emergency generators for 10 hours, until power was restored to the plant.

Japan Earthquake Blackout
An aerial view shows central Sapporo city during blackout after an earthquake hit the area in Sapporo, Hokkaido, northern Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo, September 6. Kyodo/via REUTERS

Landslide

Following the earthquake, a massive landslide occurred in the town of Atsuma. Rescuers continued to search for survivors after homes were buried in the slide. Many of those who were unaccounted for came as a result of the landslide.

"We will carry on searching for them," Atsuma Mayor Shoichiro Miyasaka told public broadcaster NHK.

Roads remained impassable due to debris and mud from the landslide, hindering rescue efforts in the region. Some roads had also buckled from the earthquake.

Japan Earthquake Landslide
Houses damaged by a landslide caused by an earthquake, are seen in Atsuma town in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo September 6. Kyodo/via REUTERS

Injuries, Death Toll and the Missing

At least nine people were dead, according to the latest figures on Thursday morning. More than 350 others were injured, while 30 others remained missing, the Associated Press reported. The death toll may go up as first responders continued to search for those who were unaccounted for.

Rescue Operations

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe deployed up to 25,000 troops and personnel to Hokkaido to aid in search and rescue, the Associated Press reported. Backup generators, water and other supplies were sent to hospitals and communities in the wake of the earthquake.

Japan Earthquake Rescue
Rescue workers search for survivors from a house damaged by a landslide caused by an earthquake in Atsuma town, Hokkaido, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo on September 6. Kyodo/via REUTERS

Flights Grounded

The earthquake and ensuing power outage caused flights to be grounded and disrupted train transportation in the region, according to the South China Morning Post.

"Due to the closure of Kansai International Airport and Sapporo Airport, flights to and from Osaka and Sapporo have been affected respectively," Hong Kong's Airport Authority said Thursday. "Passengers are advised to contact their airlines, check with the airport's website or the flight information display screens for the latest flight information."

Japan Reeling From Typhoon Jebi

Before the earthquake hit on Wednesday, Japan was contending with the aftermath of typhoon Jebi, the strongest such storm to hit the region in 25 years. When Jebi made landfall on Tuesday afternoon, it brought winds of up to 135 mph.

Eleven people were killed and another 600 injured by the typhoon. The storm caused severe flooding, prompting the evacuation of thousands of people and closing Kansai airport. It also cut power to hundreds of thousands of homes.

Japan Earthquake
Rescue workers search for survivors from a house damaged by a landslide caused by an earthquake in Atsuma town in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo September 6. Kyodo/via REUTERS