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). No tsunami warning has been issued. According to local media, at least one person died and approximately ten people were injured as a result of the earthquake, which also destroyed several buildings in Hokkaido. Widespread power outages affecting approximately 3 million people were reported immediately following the earthquake; it is currently unclear when power will be restored. Several landslides were reported in the region, including one in Atsuma that destroyed several houses. Multiple aftershocks have been reported in the area since the first quake. Additional aftershocks are possible in the coming hours and days.
Significant transportation disruptions are to be expected in the wake of Thursday's earthquake due to infrastructural damage. The Sapporo subway was temporarily closed due to the earthquake and associated power outages; it is not clear when the subway will be reopened. Additionally, the Hokkaido Shinkansen tunnel, connecting Hokkaido to Aomori, has been closed until further notice due to a lack of power. No runway damage or flight disruptions were reported at New Chitose Airport (CTS), though some damage to the terminal was reported. Infrastructure providing telephone and cellular connection to four Hokkaido communities, including Hidaka, have reportedly been damaged in the quake.
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 and confirm travel reservations. 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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