18 dead, 19 missing in wake of powerful earthquake at Japan's Hokkaido (UPDATED)

18 dead, 19 missing in wake of powerful earthquake at Japan's Hokkaido (UPDATED)

23:44 (GMT+4) A total of 18 people have been confirmed dead, two others in state of cardiopulmonary arrest, and around 19 people remain missing in the wake of a powerful earthquake that rocked Hokkaido Prefecture in northern Japan on Thursday, local authorities said Friday, Xinhua reported.

The Japanese government had earlier announced that the death toll had risen to 16, but the government's top spokesperson, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, announced Friday afternoon that the figure had been revised back down to nine, adding that another nine were feared dead but were yet to be declared as fatalities.

The town of Atsuma, one of the hardest-hit areas, later announced the names of 15 people in the town that have been confirmed dead due to the quake. Two other people in the town were in state of cardiopulmonary arrest.

According to local police, three other people in the city of Tomakomai, the town of Mukawa, and the town of Shinhidaka, respectively, were also confirmed dead, bringing the death toll to 18.

About 390 others have been reportedly injured due to the quake, while rescue efforts continue for the 19 people that remain unaccounted for.

In Atsuma where massive landslides buried numerous homes and where 19 people have been reported missing, rescue teams were seen combing through rubble with their hands, looking for signs of those unaccounted for.

Whole mountain ranges in the worst-hit regions had their landscapes altered owing to massive landslides, local media reported, and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has warned of more possible landslides as heavy rain is expected to hit Hokkaido through Saturday.

At one point, some 2.95 million homes were without electricity as the whole prefecture suffered a power outage, and water supply was cut off at some 66,590 households, local utilities said.

But easing the pressure somewhat, as of Friday night, power was reconnected to 70 percent of the homes in Hokkaido, and water had been reconnected at half of the homes, according to local reports.

The government said that electricity was expected to be restored across the prefecture on Saturday.

According to transport officials, Hokkaido's Shinkansen bullet train service was resumed at noon on Friday and Sapporo's subway system also restarted services.

The local office of the transport ministry said that power was restored to the terminal building at New Chitose Airport, the gateway to Hokkaido.

Airlines have been making arrangements to resume operations, but all flights on Friday morning were cancelled and passengers were struggling to book seats on flights out of Hokkaido.

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.7, struck Hokkaido prefecture at 3:08 a.m. local time Thursday (1808 GMT Wednesday).

The quake logged the maximum 7 on Japan's seismic intensity scale, marking the first time for Hokkaido since the seismic scale was revised in 1996, according to Japan's weather agency.

Hundreds of aftershocks have since followed and the JMA has warned that earthquakes over magnitude-5.0 could still occur in the area in the following week.

21:15 (GMT+4) Sixteen people have been confirmed dead and around 26 people still remain missing in the wake of a powerful earthquake that rocked Hokkaido Prefecture in northern Japan in the early hours of Thursday morning, the government said on Friday, Xİnhua reported.

As search and rescue efforts continue Friday after a 6.7-magnitude quake struck Japan's northernmost prefecture a day earlier, police, firefighters and thousands of Self-Defense Forces personnel used heavy machinery to remove rubble.

In one of the hardest-hit towns of Atsuma where massive landslides buried numerous homes, rescue teams were combing through the rubble with their hands, looking for signs of those still unaccounted for.

Whole mountain ranges in the hardest-hit regions had their landscapes altered owing to massive landslides, local media reported.

Some 2.95 million homes were without electricity, as the entire prefecture suffered a power outage, with Hokkaido Electric Power Company initially saying it might take up to a week until power is fully restored in its service area.

In addition, hundreds of thousands of households were reported as having no water supply, local utilities also said.

But easing the pressure somewhat Friday, power was reconnected to 3 million homes in Hokkaido, the utility said.

Nevertheless, according to prefectural officials, more than 6,400 people were forced to spend the night at evacuation centers in the prefectural capital of Sapporo.

According to transport officials, Hokkaido's Shinkansen bullet train service will likely resume at noon on Friday and Sapporo's subway system will also resume services.

According to local media reports, the local office of the transport ministry said that power has been restored to the terminal building at New Chitose Airport, the gateway to Hokkaido.

Airlines are now making arrangements to resume operations, but all Friday morning flights have been cancelled.

At least 300 people have been injured as a result of the earthquake measuring the maximum 7 on Japan's seismic intensity scale.

This marked the first time a quake in Hokkaido has reached this intensity level since the seismic scale was revised in 1996, Japan's weather agency said.

Hundreds of aftershocks have since followed and the JMA has warned that earthquakes over 5.0-magnitude could continue in the area for about a week.

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