Dozens missing after strong Japan natural disaster and mudslides

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A powerful 6.6-magnitude quake rocked the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido Thursday, triggering landslides, collapsing buildings, and killing at least two people with several dozen missing.

Aerial footage showed dozens of landslides exposing barren hillsides near the town of Atsuma in southern Hokkaido, with mounds of reddish earth and toppled trees piled up at the edge of green fields. It set off a tsunami that devastated communities along the Pacific coast and killed almost 20,000 people.

The Japanese news outlet NHK said two people have been confirmed dead, 140 people were injured and another 40 have been reported missing.

NHK World, a public broadcaster in Japan, reported that the quakes caused "huge landslides" in the area.

Efforts to restore power to 2.95 million households were underway but it was not clear when supplies would be restored, a company spokesman said.

Hiroshige Seko, the industry minister, said he expected it would take at least a week before electricity could be restored to all of Hokkaido.

Bits of roof and water could be seen on the floor in New Chitose Airport, which is likely to be closed at least for today, affecting more than 200 flights and 40,000 passengers.

The quake, which struck at 3am local time on Thursday had a magnitude of 6.7, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

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The US Geological Survey, which put the magnitude at 6.6, said the quake was centred 27km southeast of Tomakomai and was 33km deep. Kirin Beer and Sapporo Beer both said factories were shut by the power outage, although they said no structural damage was found.

The plant's fuel rods are being cooled with emergency power supplied by diesel generators, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Thursday.

In Tokyo, the central government said the Self-Defence Forces will dispatch 25,000 personnel for relief operations at the request of the governor of Hokkaido.

"Large quakes often occur, especially within two-three days (of a big one)", said Toshiyuki Matsumori, in charge of monitoring earthquakes and tsunamis at the meteorological agency.

They warned residents about increased risks of collapse among buildings near the epicenter.

A building in the town of Abira, Hokkaido, is seen damaged by an quake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.7 that rocked Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido on September 6, 2018.

On Mar 11, 2011, a devastating 9.0-magnitude quake struck under the Pacific Ocean, and the resulting tsunami caused widespread damage and claimed thousands of lives.

In June, a deadly tremor rocked the Osaka region, killing 5 people and injuring over 350.