A 6.6-magnitude earthquake rattled Hokkaido prefecture shortly after 03:00 (local time) on Thursday, August 6. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake hit 26 km (16 mi) east-southeast of Chitose at a depth of 31 km (19 mi). The Japan Meteorological Agency did not issue a tsunami warning, and no injuries or damages were immediately reported. Local media reported widespread power outages in Sapporo (Hokkaido prefecture) following the earthquake. It was not immediately clear how many households were affected or when power would be restored. A 5.3-magnitude aftershock was recorded less than 15 minutes after the initial earthquake on Thursday. Additional aftershocks are possible in the coming hours and days. Further information on the earthquake can be found on the USGS website.
Japan sits at the junction of four tectonic plates and experiences a number of relatively violent earthquakes every year. Rigid building codes and strict enforcement mean even strong tremors often do little damage. However, a massive undersea earthquake in March 2011 near Fukushima sent a tsunami barreling into Japan's northeastern coast, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or missing and sending three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant. In April 2016, two strong earthquakes followed by more than 1700 aftershocks hit the southern prefecture of Kumamoto, leaving at least 50 dead and causing widespread damage.
Individuals in the Hokkaido area are advised to be prepared for possible aftershocks. In general, after a powerful earthquake, check for damages and take note of your surroundings. If indoors, shut off water, gas, and electricity lines and evacuate the building.
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