Photos From Japan's 6.7 Magnitude Earthquake Show Damage More Severe Than Initially Feared
Late Saturday evening, central Japan was shaken by a 6.7 magnitude earthquake that has caused extensive damage throughout the mountainous area, destroying scores of homes and injuring dozens. The quake hit after 10 pm on Saturday, and a morning assessment of the damage found that the effects were more far reaching than initially anticipated. According to helicopter survey data, at least 50 homes have been seriously affected across two villages, and 41 people have been injured, at least seven of whom sustained serious injuries. The earthquake also resulted in a number of landslides which have hampered access to transportation lines, as well as caused further damage for infrastructure.
Luckily, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported via Twitter that none of the electric facilities in the area, including the nuclear power plants, sustained any damage. Hakuba, Japan, the home of the 1998 Winter Olympic games, appears to have borne the brunt of the damage, with at least 43 homes destroyed and 17 people injured. Ryo Nishino, who owns a restaurant in the area, told Japanese broadcaster NHK that this quake was the most violent he'd ever experienced, noting he had "never experienced a quake that shook so hard. The sideways shaking was enormous." Nishino was in the wine cellar of his establishment when the earthquake struck, and reported that there was no damage at that level of the restaurant.
More than 60 aftershocks have followed the original quake, one of which clocked in at a substantial 4.1 magnitude. But happily, all 21 individuals who were trapped as a result of the disaster have been rescued, and police have made house calls to ensure that all residents have been accounted for. Shigeharu Fujimori, a Nagano prefecture disaster management official, told ABC news, "The hardest-hit area was in the mountains and sparsely populated, where neighbors have a close relationship and help each other, so I don't think anyone has been forgotten or left isolated." No deaths have been reported thus far.
As of Saturday evening, some 500 people in surrounding areas, including Otari, a village slightly north of Hakuba, were without power and water. 200 people from Otari and Hakuba have been evacuated to nearby shelters. At least one train line has also been rendered inoperable due to damage caused by resulting landslides. Japanese television has shown several collapsed and severely damaged buildings, both residential and non-residential, and the Associated Press reports local infrastructure to be in "various states of collapse, some flattened and others leaning to one side, and deep cracks in the roads."
The damage will continue to be assessed throughout the day, and Japanese officials who are well-versed in earthquake protocol are ensuring the health and safety of those affected.