3 years since powerful Hokkaido quake

Monday marks three years since a powerful earthquake hit the northern Japanese prefecture of Hokkaido.

The quake struck the Iburi region on September 6, 2018, registering the highest intensity on Japan's seismic scale of zero to seven. Forty-four lives were lost, including people who later died from disaster-related causes, and 785 others were injured.

Thirty-seven people died in the town of Atsuma. Many of them succumbed to massive landslides in the Yoshino district.

From early Monday morning, people left flowers at the site. They included those who lost acquaintances.

A 34-year-old man who lost two relatives said he asked them to rest in peace.

He said the town's recovery appears to have made progress, but he still finds it hard to move forward.

People also mourned the victims at a memorial that was unveiled in the town center on Sunday.

An 89-year-old man who lost a friend and former colleague said he promised them that he will protect the town. He says he will live each day as best he can, cherishing his time.

Atsuma Mayor Miyasaka Shoichiro and town employees gathered at the memorial and observed a moment of silence when a siren sounded at noon.