The death toll of Japan´s earthquake rises to 30

Tokyo _ Agencies

The death toll of a severe earthquake that caused landslides in northern Japan has risen to 30, while rescue teams have been searching for survivors between the mud.

The majority of those killed were from the rural town of Atsuma, where a number of dwellings were destroyed when a hill collapsed because of the 6.5-magnitude earthquake.

Nine people remain unaccounted for in the town and another 400 were slightly injured, according to the local government of the northern Hokkaido Island.

Akira Matsushita, who lost his brother in Atsuma  "We have not seen landslides here " added to Asahi TV channel, "I didn't believe until I saw with my eyes and realized that no one will survive."

About 40,000 people, including members of the Self-defense forces, are involved in search and rescue work using bulldozers, trained dogs and 75 helicopters, according to the senior government spokesman.

All three million homes in Hokkaido were denied electricity when the quake destroyed a thermal facility supplying electricity to the area, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the electricity was mostly returned.

During a government meeting, he confirmed the release of funds to send food, water and fuel necessary for energy generators in hospitals.

Some 31,000 homes remain without water and 16,000 people have taken refuge in shelters.

The powerful earthquake also led to the collapse of a number of houses and walls in the island's main city of Sapporo.

However, given the force of the quake, the death toll is relatively low and most of them have spent landslides in Atsuma.

International flights resumed at Sapporo Main airport on Saturday, the day after high-speed trains returned to service Friday.

The western parts of the country are still recovering from the strongest hurricane that hit Japan for a quarter of a century, killing 11 people and closing the main airport in the region.

Japan is located on the Pacific Fire Belt, where it registers the largest number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in the world. Japan annually hits more than 20% of the world's strongest earthquakes.

On 11 March 2011, a 9-degree earthquake hit the Pacific bottom and led to a tsunami that caused widespread damage and killed thousands.

 

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