Hokkaido marks 5th anniversary of powerful quake

Wednesday marks five years since a powerful earthquake that hit the Iburi region of Hokkaido, northern Japan.

The magnitude-6.7 quake hit Atsuma Town and nearby areas on September 6, 2018. The jolt, which registered the highest intensity on the Japanese seismic scale of zero to seven, claimed 44 lives, including people who died later from disaster-related causes. A further 785 people were injured.

Atsuma town officials gathered in front of the town office at 3:07 a.m., the exact time of the quake. They lit 37 candles, the same number as the town's fatalities, and offered a silent prayer.

Also on Wednesday, people visited the town's Yoshino district, the site of massive landslides that killed 19 people, and offered flowers for the victims.

A former town official said he prayed for two of his then colleagues who died in the disaster.