Rescuers continue search for survivors after Japan quake

Strong earthquake strikes near Tomakomai in northern Japan

The death toll in Hokkaido grew to 16 on Friday after a magnitude-6.7 quake struck Japan's northernmost main island the previous day, and it is feared the figure will rise further with the government reporting 26 people are still missing.

"We will do our best to save lives", Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said after an emergency Cabinet meeting.

Power is gradually being restored in areas that were hit by blackouts following the magnitude 6.7 quake, which measured a full 7 on the 7-point Japanese seismic intensity scale.

In Sapporo, the regional capital and home to 1.9 million people, casualties were relatively light.

Hokkaido's main airport is closed, at least for the day.

The landslides ripped through some homes and buried others. Of these, 19 were in the Hokkaido town of Atsuma, where landslides directly struck residences.

The quake left nearly 3 million people without power after damage to a major thermal plant supplying the region, with Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko saying it could take "at least a week" for supply to be restored.

The Japan Football Association (JFA) said they had taken the decision after considering the magnitude of damage that included widespread power outages and transportation disruptions, as well as spectator safety.

All domestic and worldwide flights had been suspended at New Chitose Airport in the prefecture on September 6, but flights resumed in the morning of September 7, with a Vanilla Air plane landing following a flight from Narita Airport near Tokyo. It could take a week to restore power fully to all residents, Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said.

The storm, the most powerful to hit Japan in 25 years, stranded thousands of passengers and workers at the airport, whose operator said it would resume some domestic flights on Friday.

"This will help us to restore power to more places", he said.

In Sapporo, a city of some 1.96 million residents, neon and traffic lights were out Thursday night and parts of its roads caved in, while long lines formed in front of a limited number of convenience stores and gas stands that had reopened. A mudslide left several cars half buried, and the ground subsided, leaving drainpipes and manhole covers protruding by more than a meter (yard) in some places. "So, I try to think I am lucky in this unfortunate situation". The land slid all the way down and I thought I would die. I might have lost my life. He urged residents to conserve power.

Japan is used to dealing with disasters, but the last few months have brought a string of calamities. The summer also brought devastating floods and landslides from torrential rains in Hiroshima and deadly hot temperatures across the country. The quake came on the heels of a typhoon that lifted heavy trucks off their wheels and triggered major flooding in western Japan, and damaged the main airport near Osaka and Kobe.

Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo.

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