Powerful Earthquake Strands 4,000 Koreans in Hokkaido

  • By Lee Ha-won

    September 07, 2018 13:12

    A powerful magnitude 7 earthquake hit Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido early Thursday morning. The quake left five dead and blacked out all 2.95 million households on the island for more than 12 hours, causing chaos to islanders and tourists.

    Approximately 4,000 Koreans were stranded there.

    New Chitose Airport closed on Thursday following the shutdown of Kansai Airport on Tuesday due to flooding from typhoon Jebi.

    People queue to charge their phones at a shelter in Hokkaido on Thursday. /AFP-Yonhap

    According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the quake hit the island at 3:07 a.m., causing a massive landslide and destroying homes. Five people died, 38 others are missing, and about 100 injured. Some 10,000 residents fled to shelters.

    Korean tourists spent a tense night stranded at the airport and hotels. Park Hyeon-gyu, Korea's consul general in Sapporo, said, "As many as 4,000 Korean tourists had booked return flights for Thursday and Friday."

    Korean tourists reported that convenience stores ran out of bottled water and packaged food and there was nowhere to recharge their phones to keep in touch with relatives.

    It is uncertain whether flights can resume on Friday.

    Hiroshige Seko, Japan's minister of economy, trade, and industry, worried that it would take a week to normalize power supply to the island. The JMA advised people to be careful, saying that quakes of a similar magnitude could occur within two to three days.

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