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Major Earthquake Strikes Japan in Latest String of Natural Disasters

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A powerful earthquake rocked Hokkaido, Japan in the early hours on Thursday, triggering landslides, destroying roads and buildings and left the northern island's 5.3 million residents without power.

The 6.7-magnitude quake struck at 3:09 a.m. local time at a depth of 40 kilometers (24 miles), according to the Associated Press.


Meteorological agency officials told the public broadcaster NHK that the earthquake reached the maximum level on Japan's seismic intensity scale.

"We punched in seismic data from new locations to analyze today's earthquake. In the town of Atsuma, the earthquake measured 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale," Toshiyuki Matsumori of the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

A strong earthquake hit Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's main islands, on Thursday.USGS

Five people are confirmed dead and another four people do not have vital signs. About 300 are injured and about 30 more are missing, NHK reported.

Video footage of the temblor's destructiveness shows collapsed buildings, buckled roads, landslides that exposed entire hillsides in the hard-hit town of Atsuma and vehicles submerged in mud. The quake also grounded flights and halted train and bus services.

Power has been restored for about 330,000 buildings but Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko told NHK, "It will take more than a week to fully restore the power supply in Hokkaido."

The earthquake comes just days after Typhoon Jebi, the strongest typhoon in 25 years, hit Japan on Tuesday that caused widespread flooding, pushed an oil tanker into a major bridge, forced Kansai International Airport to close and stranding 3,000 travelers and killed at least 11 people, according to NHK.

The country also suffered from a summer of record-breaking heat that sent 70,000 people to hospitals and left 80 people dead, and historic flooding and mudslides that killed hundreds of people.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed condolences to victims of the earthquake. He has dispatched up to 25,000 troops and other personnel to help with rescue efforts.

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