Rescuers with dogs search for survivors after deadly Japan quake
* Rescuers search through night for survivors; 26 people
* Five thousand spend night in evacuation centres
* Power gradually being restored to Hokkaido's 5.3 mln
* Flights, train services also starting up again
(Updates with government clarifying death toll and power
restored to more than half the island's households)
By Kaori Kaneko and Malcolm Foster
TOKYO, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Rescue workers with dogs searched
for survivors on Friday in debris-strewn landslides caused by an
earthquake in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, as
electricity was restored to just over half of households.
Public broadcaster NHK put the death toll at 12, with five
people unresponsive. Earlier, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said 16
had died, but Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga later
clarified in updated numbers that nine had been confirmed dead
and nine others were in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest, a
term typically used before death is confirmed.
Another 24 were still missing after Thursday's pre-dawn
magnitude-6.7 quake, the latest deadly natural disaster to hit
Japan over the past two months, coming after typhoons, floods
and a record-breaking heat wave.
Nearly 5,000 Hokkaido residents spent the night in
evacuation centres where food was distributed in the morning.
"It was an anxious night with several aftershocks, but we
took encouragement from being together and now we're grateful
for some food," one woman told public broadcaster NHK.
Some 22,000 rescue workers had worked through the night to
search for survivors, Abe told an emergency meeting on Friday.
With rain forecast for Friday afternoon and Saturday, he urged
people to be careful about loose soil that could cause unstable
houses to collapse or further landslides.
"We will devote all our energy to saving lives," Abe said.
As of Friday afternoon, Hokkaido Electric Power Co
had restored power to 1.54 million of the island's 2.95 million
households. The utility aimed to raise that number to 2.4
million, or over 80 percent, by the end of Friday, industry
minister Hiroshige Seko said.
Flights resumed from midday at Hokkaido's main airport, New
Chitose. The island, about the size of Austria and with 5.3
million people, is a popular tourist destination known for its
mountains, lakes, rolling farmland and seafood.
LANDSLIDES WRECK HOMES
Soldiers in fatigues and orange-clad rescue workers searched
for survivors, picking through debris on huge mounds of earth
near the epicentre in Atsuma in southern Hokkaido. Aerial
footage showed rescuers with dogs walking through the
All the missing people are from the Atsuma area, where
dozens of landslides wrecked homes and other structures and left
starkly barren hillsides.
"I just hope they can find him quickly," one unidentified
man told NHK as he watched the search for his missing neighbour.
The quake damaged the big Tomato-Atsuma plant, which
normally supplies half of Hokkaido's power and is located near
the epicentre, forcing it to automatically shut down. That
caused such instability in the grid that it tripped all other
power stations on the island, causing a full blackout.
Hokkaido Electric was bringing other smaller plants back on
line and also receiving some power transferred through undersea
cables from the main island of Honshu.
Kansai International Airport in western Japan has been shut
since Typhoon Jebi ripped through Osaka on Tuesday, although
some domestic flights operated by Japan Airlines Co Ltd
and ANA Holdings Inc's low-cost carrier Peach Aviation
resumed on Friday, the carriers said.
JR Hokkaido planned to resume bullet train operations from
midday. It was also trying to resume other train services on
Friday afternoon, a spokesman said.
Manufacturers were still affected by power outages.
Toyota Motor Corp's Tomakomai factory, which makes
transmissions and other parts, said operations remained
suspended indefinitely until power was restored, a spokesman
Toppan Printing Co Ltd's operations at a plant in
Chitose, which makes food packages, would remain suspended until
it regained power, a spokesman said.
The quake prompted Japan's Self-Defense Forces to cancel two
joint military exercises in Hokkaido, including the first-ever
drill with Australian fighter jets, and a training exercise with
the U.S. Marine Corps.
A soccer friendly between Japan and Chile scheduled for
Friday in Hokkaido's main city of Sapporo was also called off.
(Reporting by Chris Gallagher, Kaori Kaneko, Makiko Yamazaki
and Osamu Tsukimori; Writing by Malcolm Foster and Chris
Gallagher; Editing by Paul Tait and Christopher Cushing)
First Published: 2018-09-07 03:16:33
Updated 2018-09-07 10:55:01
© 2018 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Reuters content is the intellectual property of Thomson Reuters or its third party content providers. Any copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. "Reuters" and the Reuters Logo are trademarks of Thomson Reuters and its affiliated companies.