Japan quake death toll mounts to 44, power supply remains short

Published: September 10, 2018 10:59:25 | Updated: September 11, 2018 21:27:11


Police officers and members of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) working in area damaged by a landslide caused by an earthquake in Atsuma town, Hokkaido, northern Japan, in this photo taken on Saturday — Kyodo photo REUTERS

The death toll from a powerful earthquake in northern Japan last week rose to 44, with 660 injured, the government said on Monday, as electricity supply remained short.

The pre-dawn, 6.7-magnitude quake on Thursday temporarily paralysed the island of Hokkaido, cutting off access by air and train and knocking out power to an island the size of Austria.

About 2,500 people remain in evacuation centres, according to Fire and Disaster Management Agency, after landslides buried houses and rain at the weekend loosened soil in a further threat to unstable houses, reports Reuters.

Yoshihide Suga, the top government spokesman, said a team of about 40,000 Self-Defense Force troops, police, firefighters, and others were working on clearing debris and other clean-up operations. There were no more missing residents, he said.

Power supply has been restored to nearly all customers in Hokkaido but trade minister Hiroshige Seko called on the island’s businesses and 5.3 million residents to use about 20 per cent less energy to prevent further blackouts.

“It’s very important now for all residents, businesses, the government, and electricity suppliers to work together towards this goal of 20 per cent energy-saving,” Seko told a news conference late on Sunday.

The government has no plans for rolling blackouts on Monday and Tuesday despite the continued closure of a fossil fuel-fired power plant that supplies about half the island’s power, he said.

Share if you like