NHK NEWSLINE from Tokyo

LIVE BLOG: Hokkaido Earthquake

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Public utilities and transportation are gradually being restored in Hokkaido following widespread power outages in the wake of a strong earthquake on Thursday.

Hokkaido Electric Power Company says about half of the island's households have their power back on.

More than 38,000 are still waiting for water to be hooked up again. It's meant long lines at water stations that were set up following the quake.

Public transportation is also slowly coming back online. The island's Shinkansen bullet train service has resumed operations.

The Hokkaido Railway Company says all express trains connecting major cities in Hokkaido will remain stopped on Friday and it's unclear when other local service will start again.

But the subway and streetcars in Sapporo have resumed operations.

The shinkansen bullet train service has resumed operations in Hokkaido.

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Rescuers are digging through rubble and mud in their search for survivors. Eight people are dead, 8 are without vital signs and 26 remain missing.

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Hokkaido's New-Chitose Airport has resumed operations.

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Hokkaido's shinkansen bullet train service will likely resume at noon on Friday. Sapporo's subway system is also set to restart, following Thursday's earthquake.

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Associate Professor Kei Katsumata, a seismologist at Hokkaido University says an active fault is located near the epicenter, but he says he cannot say for sure if there is a direct link between the fault and the latest earthquake. He pointed out that its epicenter was 40 kilometers underground but the fault is about 10 kilometers deep. He also said the earthquake may have been caused by pent-up pressure built up in an area surrounding the fault.

The earthquake triggered landslides in the town of Atsuma, engulfing homes there. Many of the missing people are from this town.

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Following the Hokkaido earthquake, 5 people are confirmed dead and 4 are without vital signs. About 30 are missing.

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The Meteorological Agency estimates the quake’s magnitude was 6.7, and the maximum level of 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale. There have been dozens of aftershocks. An agency official said, "In areas where shaking was strong, the danger of houses collapsing and landslides could be very high. Pay attention to upcoming seismic activity and rainfall. Don't go to dangerous areas unless it's necessary, and look out for your safety."

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Power has been knocked out throughout Hokkaido. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry says that although it has returned to some areas, a full restoration will take more than a week.

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Ways to save smartphone battery power

Smartphones help people to stay in contact and access information after a power outage. Here are some ways to conserve battery power.

If you are using an iPhone, go from your Home screen to Settings and then to Battery, where you can turn the Low Power Mode on. When the Low Power Mode is on, the color of the battery in the status bar on the upper right corner of the screen will turn from green to yellow.

Another way to extend battery life is to close apps that are not in use. Pressing the home button once does not close the app. Double tap the home button to see all the recently used apps. You can quit the apps by swiping up each one. Turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will also save battery life. Dimming the screen will also help. To do this, open Control Center and drag the brightness slider down.

Android phones have a battery saver function. To turn the battery saver on manually, touch the top of the smartphone screen and swipe down. This will reveal a battery saver icon that you tap to turn on. To reduce screen brightness, swipe down with two fingers from the top of your screen. Then move to the left the slider that appears at the top of the screen. Turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will also help to conserve battery power.

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Following the Hokkaido earthquake, 4 people are dead and 4 are without vital signs. About 300 people are injured, and around 30 are missing.

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Hospitals are on emergency backup power. Officials say 6 of 12 key hospitals are partially or completely unable to deal with emergency treatment in Sapporo City.

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Mobile carrier NTT Docomo is offering free recharge services at its outlets in 7 cities of Hokkaido in response to the earthquake in Japan's northernmost prefecture.

The service is available at the 8 Docomo shops indicated below through 5 PM on Thursday.

In Sapporo City: Docomo Hokkaido Building in Chuo Ward; and Docomo Tsukisamu Building in Toyohira Ward.

In Asahikawa City: Docomo CS Hokkaido Asahikawa branch office.

In Otaru City: Docomo Shop Wing Bay Otaru.
In Hakodate City: Docomo Shop Hakodate.
In Kushiro City: Docomo Shop Kushiro.
In Obihiro City: Docomo Shop Keibajo-dori.
In Kitami City: Docomo Shop Okhotsk.

The information is also available on NTT Docomo's website.

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Japan's nuclear regulatory body says power supply from off-site sources has been restored to all 3 reactors at the Tomari nuclear power plant in Hokkaido.

The power plant lost all external power sources following the strong earthquake that struck the northern island prefecture early on Thursday morning.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority said power supply returned to all reactors by 1 PM.

Emergency diesel-powered generators had automatically switched on to cool the nuclear fuel assemblies in the storage pools while off-site power was lost.

All 3 reactors are currently offline with a total of 1,527 fuel assemblies in its storage pools.

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Those in Hokkaido who need information in English, Mandarin or in Korean can call Hokkaido Disaster Prevention Information at one of the following numbers:

011-204-5937
011-204-5092

The operators are available between 8:45 AM and 5:30 PM on weekdays.
Please note that the services are for foreigners in Hokkaido only.

Information can also be found on the Hokkaido disaster prevention website at:
www.bousai-hokkaido.jp/BousaiPublic/html/dou/en/top_english.html

An expert says liquefaction seems to be occurring. The strong shaking caused underground water to mix with mud and sand, and forced it to the surface.

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The Hokkaido earthquake has left 2 people dead and one without vital signs. More than 140 people are injured, and about 40 are missing.

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The earthquake triggered landslides, wiping out homes in the town of Atsuma. Many of the missing are from this town of about 40 residents.

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Japan's nuclear regulatory body says the Tomari nuclear power plant in Hokkaido is using emergency generators to cool fuel after the region was hit by a powerful earthquake.

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Aviation authorities cancelled all flights at New Chitose Airport on Thursday. Workers at the airport are checking the runways and flights will resume once they are deemed safe.

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Shinkansen services and local trains across Hokkaido have stopped. Public bus services in Sapporo, Asahikawa, and other locations have shut down. And some sections of highways in the western part of Hokkaido are closed.

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Widespread damage in Hokkaido

The earthquake has triggered landslides, caused widespread damage and left the whole of Hokkaido Prefecture without power. There have been reports of at least one dead, 126 people injured and 39 people missing.The extent of the damage is still being assessed but throughout the prefecture, buildings are tilted, and roads are cracked and buckled.