The death toll from a powerful earthquake that triggered landslides in northern Japan has almost doubled to 35, while tens of thousands of rescuers scour the mud to find more survivors.
Around 16,000 people are still evacuated to emergency shelters, since 31,000 homes on the island of Hokkaido still do not have water, and about 20,000 homes are without electricity after the magnitude 6.6 earthquake that occurred around 3 am Thursday.
Tens of thousands of Japanese soldiers and rescue soldiers continued today to comb the collapsed buildings for the third consecutive day in a northern village buried by the landslides of the powerful earthquake.
A boy carries a packet of water he received at a shelter in Atsuma, Hokkaido, north of Japan. On Saturday, September 8, three days after a powerful earthquake that left the entire island without electricity, 5.4 million people flooded parts of a neighborhood in the main city of Sapporo in deep mud and destructive landslides unleashed
It is a difficult task for police officers and firefighters as they search through collapsed structures for missing people after a large landslide in Atsuma, Hokkaido, northern Japan.
The stranded passengers queue in line to wait for their flights at Chitose Airport, Chitose, Hokkaido, in northern Japan. The regional airport began to resume operations after hundreds of flights were canceled, stranded thousands of passengers, due to a power cut and a slight earthquake on Thursday.
The Hokkaido government had previously said that 30 people are dead or presumably dead and nine are still missing, compared to yesterday's death toll of 18.
All but three of the victims are residents of the city of Atsuma, where landslides crushed and buried houses at the foot of steep wooded hills that dominate the rice fields.
But in an additional update, public broadcaster NHK said 35 were dead, with about five people still missing in the city.
About 600 people suffered minor injuries, according to the local government of the northern island of Hokkaido.
Rescue workers with bulldozers and sniffer dogs have been digging through the solidified mud to find more survivors.
"We never had landslides here," said Akira Matsushita, who lost her brother in Atsuma.
Rescuers are searching for missing people at the site of a landslide triggered by Thursday's earthquake in Atsuma, Hokkaido, northern Japan. Soldiers and Japanese soldiers are searching for the missing for the third day in a row in a northern village buried by the landslides of the powerful earthquake
Japan's ground-based self-defense staff with a rescue dog works at a large landslide site in the Yoshino district of Atsuma
Rescue teams continue to search through a large landslide site in the Yoshino district of Atsuma, after a 6.6 earthquake that killed 30 people
"I could not believe until I saw it with my own eyes," he told TV Asahi. "When I saw it, I knew that no one could survive."
Some 40,000 rescuers, including specially recruited Self-Defense Forces, were searching for survivors with bulldozers, sniffer dogs and 75 helicopters, according to the government's chief spokesman.
"They are doing everything possible 24 hours a day," Yoshihide Suga told reporters.
The three million homes on the island of Hokkaido lost power when the earthquake on Thursday damaged a thermal plant that supplies electricity to the region, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said electricity was mostly restored.
"Thanks to the hard work to increase the power supply throughout the night, the number of homes without electricity decreased to 20,000," Abe said at a cabinet meeting to analyze the earthquake.
Workers remove mud on Saturday from the liquefaction of a street floor after a powerful earthquake in the Kiyota room in Sapporo, Hokkaido, northern Japan, on Saturday. The strong earthquake on Thursday hit large areas on Japan's main northernmost island, Hokkaido. Some parts of the city were severely damaged, with sloping houses and collapsed or sunken roads.
A worker passes in front of the cars half buried in the mud caused by the liquefaction of the ground after a powerful earthquake in the Kiyota hall of Sapporo, Hokkaido
A worker removes heavy debris from a damaged street while a vehicle half buried in mud can be seen behind him on the street
The return of electricity was a great relief for the residents. Approximately half of Hokkaido regained power on Friday, and all but 20,000 homes had electricity this morning.
"It was a relief that I came back last night, but it seems like it took time," said Tatsuo Kimura, a 66-year-old Sapporo resident, adding that the blackout was a reminder of how important electrical energy is in our lives.
The prime minister, who will meet with the survivors of the earthquake in Hokkaido on Sunday, said the government would launch emergency funds to deliver food, water and fuel needed for power generators in hospitals.
A total of 31,000 households still have no water and around 16,000 people have been evacuated to shelters.
Residents remove their belongings from a house damaged by the earthquake in the Kiyota hall in Sapporo, Hokkaido, northern Japan, on Saturday, September 8, 2018.
International flights at the main Sapporo airport resumed operations on Saturday, while bullet trains began operations the previous day. Above: stranded passengers wait for flights to begin at Chitose airport
Tourists from South Korea and China were able to return home from the new Chitose airport, outside Sapporo. Around 1,600 people spent the previous night at the airport (above), according to reports in the Japanese press.
The earthquake also collapsed a handful of houses and walls in the main regional city of Sapporo, but given the strength of the earthquake, the death toll was relatively low, with most of the victims coming from the landslide in Atsuma.
International flights at the main Sapporo airport resumed operations on Saturday, while bullet trains began operations the previous day.
Tourists from South Korea and China were able to return home from the new Chitose airport, outside Sapporo. Around 1,600 people spent the previous night at the airport, according to reports from the Japanese media.
Hokkaido has become a popular destination for tourists from other parts of Asia.
Rescue operations continued on Friday night, as staff threw bright lights at the muddy areas to find survivors.
Thousands of people have spent several nights in shelters after the earthquake, the latest in a series of natural disasters that hit the country
Toyota Motor Corp. announced that it would suspend almost all of its production in Japan on Monday. Toyota makes transmissions and other parts in Hokkaido and also has suppliers in what is the northernmost of the four main islands of Japan.
The earthquake was the latest in a series of natural disasters that hit the country.
The western parts of the country are still recovering from the most powerful typhoon that hit Japan in a quarter of a century, which claimed 11 lives and closed the main regional airport.
Japan sits on the Ring of Fire & # 39; of the Pacific, where many of the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions of the world are recorded.
On March 11, 2011, a devastating earthquake of 9.0 magnitude shook the Pacific Ocean and the resulting tsunami caused widespread damage and claimed thousands of lives.