Typhoon and earthquake hits Japan
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Only two days after the devastating typhoon in Japan earlier this week, a 6,6 earthquake hit the Sapporo region on the north island on Thursday. Around 20 people are dead in these two disasters, and this comes only weeks after Japan recovered from a massive heatwave this summer.
The earthquake in northern Japan has claimed at least 11 lives. The death toll is expected to rise since tens of thousands of people are missing when houses were buried in heavy landslides.
The earthquake night to Thursday local time and it triggered extensive landslides that tore down buildings on the mountain slopes in smaller communities in the countryside.
"The quake was strong and came very suddenly. I felt how it swayed sideways, not up and down, for at least two, three minutes, says Kazuo Kibayashi, a municipal representative in the Abira region, which was hot very hard.
The television company NHK reports that eleven people have been confirmed dead in the earthquake southeast of Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido.
About 300 people were injured in the quake, but the vast majority of them were mild injuries. 30 are seriously wounded.
Three million people without power
About three million households in the region were left without electricity after the earthquake. It is estimated to take at least one week until everyone recovers their power. About twelve hours after the quake, parts of the electricity gridhad begun to work again.
Nearly 20,000 rescue workers have been put in, and about 20 000 more are lined up to start working.
"We will do our best to save lives," said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after an extraordinary government meeting.
More earthquakes coming?
The main earthquake has been measured at a magnitude of 6.6. The region has also been shaken by a series of powerful aftershocks. The authorities warn that there may be even more.
"There are often major earthquakes within two to three days after a larger quake," said Toshiyuki Matsumori, at the Japanese authority that oversees earthquakes and tsunami waves.
First a typhoon - then an earthquke
Japan is still keeping clean up after the worst typhoon that hit the country in 25 years. The storm struck against western Japan on Tuesday, and led to at least eleven deaths.
Aat least 500 flights were canceled and the prime minister called on residents to leave their homes.
"It's the strongest since 1993," said chief meteorologist Ryuta Kurora to AFP.
Winds of up to 60 meters per second were measured and during the storm a tanker ship was blown into a bridge in the bay outside Osaka. The Kansai Airport was flooded.
1,19 million people were recommended to evacuate and another 16,000 received a stronger evacuation order.