A powerful quake hit wide areas of Japan's northernmost main island, Hokkaido, early Thursday, triggering landslides, knocking out power to almost 3 million households and causing a nuclear power plant to go on a backup generator.
The quake, which struck at 3:08am (local time) posed no tsunami risk, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
The epicenter of the quake was about 16 miles from the Hokkaido's main airport in the city of Chitose - about 70 miles south of Sapporo.
Japan's Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said the ministry instructed Hokkaido Electric Power to restart the coal-fired Tomato-Atsuma power plant within a few hours.
The preliminary magnitude 6.6 quake struck at 8:07 a.m. Hawaii time 38.6 miles southeast of Sapporo at a depth of 19.26 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday that Kansai Airport will partially resume operations by the end of Friday.and added that worldwide flights will restart as soon as they are ready.
Besides that, no leaks, temperature increase or any other irregularities have been recorded at the plant operated by Hokkaido Electric Power, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
Two people have been confirmed dead and at least 30 people were missing, Japanese media reported.
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"While we have yet to confirm the full picture and magnitude of the damages suffered, there are reports on large-scale landslides and power outages, and the entire region is still under an unpredictable condition".
Around 20,000 rescue workers, including police and members of the Self-Defence Forces were responding to the disaster, Suga said.
According to Reuters, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that he is coordinating emergency response for the quake on Thursday.
Moments after the initial quake, an aftershock measuring 5.3 rocked the area and dozens more aftershocks followed throughout the night and into the morning. Search and rescue efforts continue with the help of some 25,000 SDF servicemen. "We will manage this crisis as best we can".
Emergency power was cooling spent fuel at the Tomari Nuclear Power Station, which has been shut since Japan's 2011 Fukushima quake and tsunami.
NHK reported that public transit, including the Shinkansen bullet train services, have been suspended.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said that more bad weather could be on the way for Hokkaido and urged people to be vigilant for landslides, high tides and heavy rain.
The quake was strong enough to cause landslides on mountains in the area.