TOKYO—Rescue workers clawed through mud, trees and debris Friday looking for survivors from a major earthquake in rural northern Japan that killed at least 16 people, including some in a village buried by landslides.
The government said 26 people were missing Friday on the island of Hokkaido after a predawn magnitude-6.6 quake Thursday that left almost all the 2.95 million homes on the island without electricity.
The main airport for the region, near the epicenter of the quake, was closed Thursday after sustaining structural damage, including collapsed walls and burst water pipes. It reopened Friday morning to some flights.
Photos from the hardest-hit areas in Hokkaido, one of Japan’s least-populated regions, show collapsed buildings and ruptured pavement. At least one person was killed in the regional capital of Sapporo, the nation’s fifth-largest city.
The quake is the latest natural disaster to hit Japan this summer; record-breaking heat, flooding and the most powerful typhoon in 25 years have already killed hundreds of people across the country.
By Friday morning, 16 people were confirmed dead, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. Local authorities in Hokkaido said more than 100 people had been injured.
Television footage showed several landslides near the village of Atsuma, where mountain ridges had collapsed, engulfing many houses. The government sent in 25,000 members of the nation’s military, the Self-Defense Forces, to help with rescue and recovery.
Earthquake Hits Japan’s Northern Island
The magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck near the town of Chitose on the island of Hokkaido, at around 3.08 a.m. local time Thursday morning, triggering a landslide and closing an airport
Power had been restored to some households, chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said. It would take at least a week to restore full power across the island.
The temporary closure of Hokkaido’s main airport following the quake was another blow to Japan’s booming tourism industry after Kansai airport, near Osaka, was shut down Tuesday following a massive typhoon.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the latest quake had a magnitude of 6.6, while under Japan’s system for measuring the intensity of vibration from earthquakes, it registered the maximum reading of 7 at a location near the epicenter.