Japan hit by deadly earthquake and mudslides

Image copyright EPA/Jiji Press
Image caption Officials warned of aftershocks in the coming days

Japan's northern island of Hokkaido has been hit by a powerful earthquake, triggering landslides that engulfed houses.

At least nine people have been killed and about 40 are missing, say local media reports.

The magnitude 6.7 quake cut power to around three million homes after a thermal power plant was damaged.

The earthquake comes on the heels of a deadly typhoon lashing the west of Japan over the past few days.

Jebi, the strongest typhoon to hit the country in 25 years, killed at least 10 people and caused widespread damage and disruption.

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Media captionThe earthquake caused landslides which engulfed houses
Damaged house in Atsuma town Image copyright EPA/Jiji press
Image caption Houses collapsed after powerful mudslides

The tremor struck 62km (39 miles) south-east of the regional capital Sapporo in the early hours of the morning.

It posed no tsunami risk, the country's meteorological agency said.

A nuclear plant - which was not operational - had to switch to its back-up power supply to keep spent fuel cool.

A damaged road in Sapporo Image copyright Kyodo/via Reuters
Image caption Regional capital Sapporo was also hit

Local residents and travellers in the region have shared their shock about the quake on social media.

They also write about long lines at food stores as people stock up on supplies amid fears of more tremors.

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Map of Japan and Hokkaido

Authorities have warned of possible aftershocks and urged people to remain cautious.

"Large quakes often occur, especially within two to three days [of a big one]," Toshiyuki Matsumori of the meteorological agency said according to news agency AFP.

"We urge residents to pay full attention to seismic activity and rainfall and not to go into dangerous areas."

Houses destroyed by a large mudslide Image copyright Kyodo/via Reuters
Image caption Much of the damage was done by landslides destroying houses and cutting power lines

Japan is one of the world's most seismically active nations and accounts for around 20% of quakes worldwide of magnitude 6.0 or more.

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