Number Of Dead In Japan Earthquake Rises To 16, Hopes Fade For Survivors

Around 26 people are still unaccounted for in Japan’s small northern countryside town of Atsuma

Tokyo: 

Japanese rescue workers with bulldozers and sniffer dogs scrabbled through the mud Thursday to find survivors from a landslide that buried houses after a powerful quake, as the death toll rose to 16.

Around 26 people are still unaccounted for in the small northern countryside town of Atsuma, where a cluster of dwellings were wrecked when a hillside collapsed with the force of the 6.6-magnitude quake, causing deep brown scars in the landscape.

“We’ve heard there are people still stuck under the mud, so we’ve been working around the clock but it’s been difficult to rescue them,” a Self-Defence Force serviceman in Atsuma told public broadcaster NHK.

“We will take measures to find them quickly,” he added.

One village resident said: “It was horrendous. The land slid all the way down and I thought I would die. I thought my house would collapse.”

Around 1.6 million households in the sparsely populated northern island of Hokkaido were still without power after the quake damaged a thermal plant supplying electricity to the region.

According to Hokkaido Electric, power has been restored to 1.4 million houses — about 40 percent of the population — but authorities have warned it could take as long as a week to get the service fully back to normal.

Some 22,000 rescue workers including troops called up from the Self-Defense Forces handed out emergency water supplies and long lines formed…

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