Quake death toll reaches 37 in Hokkaido

Quake death toll reaches 37 in Hokkaido

Rescuers in Hokkaido are continuing to search for survivors after the deadly earthquake and massive landslides. The death toll stands at 37, with 2 people still missing.

The search effort is focused near the epicenter in the town of Atsuma in the southern part of the prefecture.

All of the missing people are from Atsuma. Thursday's quake registered at the top of Japan's seismic intensity scale. Dozens of homes were destroyed in the disaster.

In the town, about 1,800 rescuers including police, firefighters and Self-Defense Forces personnel are still searching for survivors.

The prefectural government said more than 5,000 people were taking shelter in 12 municipalities as of 5:00 AM on Sunday.

Aftershocks continue with more than 140 jolts reported up to 6:00 AM on Sunday.

Officials from the Meteorological Agency are warning of the possibility of temblors of up to the strongest level on Japan's seismic intensity for several more days.

Public transportation is slowly returning to normal. International flights have resumed at New Chitose Airport near Sapporo.

But people in Hokkaido may have to endure lower-than-usual power supplies.

Hokkaido Electric Power Company says restarting its largest thermal power plant in the prefecture may take longer than a week, or even months, depending on the results of an inspection.