All networks gave extensive top coverage to reports on the powerful earthquake that hit Hokkaido early this morning. NHK reported on its 3:00 p.m. news that at least 33 people have been reported missing and seven people have been found in a state of cardiac arrest due to mudslides in the town of Atsuma, and that two people have died in different areas and more than 200 people have been injured throughout the prefecture. The earthquake caused power outages that are currently affecting 2.95 million households in Hokkaido. The Nuclear Regulation Authority said that Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari Nuclear Power Plant lost its external power source, but the spent fuel pools there are currently being cooled by an emergency power supply system. The blackout is also affecting hospital operations and telephone service in the prefecture. New Chitose Airport has been closed and all domestic and international service there has been suspended because part of the ceiling in the terminal collapsed in addition to the power outage. Bullet train and local train services have also been disrupted by the quake.
Minister of Trade and Industry Seko told reporters that efforts are being made to restore power in Hokkaido as soon as possible by resuming suspended power plants and transmitting power from the Tohoku region. The minister added, however, that it will probably take more than a week to restore the power throughout the region due to the limited supply. Seko added that power supply cars will be sent to Hokkaido with the cooperation of utility firms outside the prefecture.