Japan’s northern island suffers extensive damage to infrastructure after massive earthquake this morning.

A major earthquake hit Hokkaido at 3:08 a.m. this morning, causing injuries, landslides, and power cuts around the island.

According to the Meteorological Agency, the tremblor measured a magnitude of 6.7, at a depth of 37 kilometres, with the epicentre located in the southwestern Iburi region. No tsunami threat was issued.

▼ This report shows the magnitude of the earthquake across Hokkaido.

The town of Atsuma, located around the epicentre, was one of  the hardest hit, with latest reports saying at least five people were trapped under rubble when landslides crushed homes. Media outlets broadcast videos showing the extent of the damage in the region.

▼ The landslides spread out across a huge area, entirely altering the usually green landscape with swathes of brown.

Hokkaido’s capital was also badly damaged, with these images showing collapsed buildings, broken roads and cars buried in mudslides in Sapporo’s Kiyota ward.

Shortly after the earthquake struck, power was lost across the whole island. According to Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko, an emergency shutdown of the main nuclear power plant that supplies more than 50 percent of the island’s electricity was the main cause of the power outage. Hokkaido’s three nuclear power plants were already offline before the earthquake hit.

▼ Video footage from Mt Hakodate shows the extent of the power outage immediately after the earthquake.

▼ Nearly 3 million homes and businesses across the prefecture remain without electricity.

Police have warned drivers to take care as damaged roads have been closed off and traffic signals are no longer working due to the power outages.

Officials are working to provide water to residents after water supplies were also cut to a large number of homes. Long queues have formed at water distribution points, where six-litre packs of water are being given out to residents.

Queues have also appeared outside supermarkets and convenience stores, with residents stocking up on supplies and essential items.

Shelves are being wiped clean of stock, with this customer commenting that staff had to manually calculate their bill as the cash registers weren’t working.

With roads closed and rail lines damaged, bus and train services, including the Shinkansen, were immediately suspended.

Following a series of safety checks, Shinkansen services began resuming from 8:46 a.m.

Flights were cancelled at Hokkaido’s New Chitose international airport, with travellers having to wait in the dimly lit airport before being guided by staff to a lodging facility nearby. The airport itself suffered water leaks and collapsed walls, with at least one person injured, and staff later announced it would be cancelling all domestic and international flights and closing for the day, hoping to resume operations tomorrow.

▼ The scene at the arrivals lobby at New Chitose Airport this morning.

The central government has set up an emergency task force to help deal with the effects of the earthquake, and evacuation shelters are being set up in Sapporo and other cities. Residents are being advised to stay indoors or head to evacuation shelters if their homes are unsafe.

Officials are also warning residents to be alert for major aftershocks in coming days. As of this writing, at least two deaths and 130 injuries have been reported, with more than 20 people missing. Hokkaido accounts for roughly one-fifth of Japan’s total land area, and has a population of approximately 5.4 million.

Sources: Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun
Featured image: Twitter/@usapon0301

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