In the early hours of Thursday morning local time, residents in Hokkaido were suddenly woken by their homes shaking for about 30 seconds as the 6.7 magnitude earthquake sent a shudder through the earth.
The quake hit around 70-miles southeast of Sapporo, the main city on the northernmost island of Japan. The city of Chitose, where Hokkaido’s main airport is located, is just 16 miles from the epicenter.
The severity of the disaster resulted in landslides in the town of Atsuma, burying a large number of homes and leaving at least 20 residents unaccounted for. A further 28 people have so far been reported injured, according to CNN. Twenty of the injuries occurred in Sapporo, and an 82-year-old man has died after trying to traverse the stairs in his home during the tremors.
Following the initial earthquake, the area was hit with several aftershocks, with one registering as high as 5.4 magnitude. Express UK reported that the tremors struck at a depth of approximately 20 miles.
Almost 3 million households also lost power after “a main power station lost operations, affecting other sites.” Officials stated that “independently owned power generators were assisting.”
“The electric supply was stopped to Tomari nuclear plant, but it can operate without external electric supply for one week,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stated that 4,000 defense forces have been deployed to assist in the rescue operations, but has allowed for up to 25,000 to be necessary once the scale of the disaster is fully determined. A command center to coordinate the rescue operations has been set up.
Other damages to the area being reported include road closures due to trees that have fallen across the tarmac, and crumbled buildings.
Japan Meteorological Agency officials have also warned that there is a high likelihood of aftershocks for as long as the next week. Residents near the epicenter of the quake have been warned that there is an increased risk of collapse of buildings in the area.
US Geological Survey has stated that there is no risk of a tsunami resulting from this quake.
Just hours before the earthquake, the southern prefectures of the country were hit by Typhoon Jebi. At least 11 were killed in the storm, with a further 450 injured. Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto were hit with winds reaching devastating speeds of 135 mph.
Kansai International Airport remains closed at this stage, and travel to the area by air could be impossible for up to a week.