At least two people died and 32 are missing after a powerful earthquake paralyzed the northern island of Hokkaido, triggering landslides and leaving its 5.3 million inhabitants without power.
Public broadcaster NHK reported the first confirmed death and said 120 people had also been injured after the 6.7 magnitude earthquake. The missing number had previously been set to 19.
The aerial images showed dozens of landslides that reveal the arid slopes near the city of Atsuma in the south of Hokkaido, with piles of reddish earth and fallen trees piled up on the edge of green fields. The collapsed remains of what appeared to be houses or barns were scattered.
The entire island was left without power after Hokkaido Electric Power Co. said it had an emergency shutdown of all its fossil fuel-fired power plants after the earthquake.
The company said it was not clear when electricity would be restored to 2.95 million households. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry told the company to restart the Tomato-Atsuma coal power plant in a few hours, said Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko.
All trains throughout the island were also stopped.
The tiles and water could be seen on the floor at Hokkaido's main airport, the new Chitose airport, which would be closed at least on Thursday. New Chitose is an important tourist gateway to the island, known for its mountains, lakes and abundant farmland and seafood, and more than 200 flights and 40,000 passengers will be affected, the Kyodo News Agency said.
The closure comes only a couple of days after the Kansai airport, a major hub for companies that export semiconductors near Osaka in western Japan, closed after it was hit by Typhoon Jebi. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said officials expected to reopen the Kansai airport for domestic flights on Friday.
The earthquake, which occurred at 4.08 AM AEST, did not pose any risk of a tsunami, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
The US Geological Survey UU He said he hit about 70 km southeast of Sapporo, the main city of Hokkaido.
A strong 6 was registered on the 7-point seismic scale of Japan.
A series of smaller shocks, including one with a magnitude of 5.4, followed the initial earthquake, the Japan Eteorology Agency said, warning residents to take precautions for potential major aftershocks in the coming days.
Japan is located in the arc of the fire ring of volcanoes and ocean trenches that surrounds in part the Pacific basin and represents about 20% of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or higher.