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1,600 still in shelters 1 week on from deadly quake in north Japan

A week after a powerful quake rocked Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, people mourned the deaths of 41 people as around 1,600 others remained in shelters as of Thursday.

Self-Defense Forces members offered silent prayers at an evacuation center in the worst-hit town of Atsuma at 3:07 a.m., the same time the magnitude 6.7 quake occurred on Sept. 6, triggering landslides that engulfed homes and killed 36 of the town’s residents. A total of 681 others have been injured across the prefecture.

(Atsuma one week after the quake)

«It’s truly regrettable,» said Yasuo Sato, 63, as he looked at a heap of soil that hit the home next door belonging to his 65-year-old cousin, Masayoshi Sato, who was killed.

Yasuo Sato was taking necessary belongings out of his own home, which was at risk of being hit by another landslide amid continued aftershocks.

«It has already been a week. The victims included a colleague of mine, and it is just sad and regrettable,» said 57-year-old town official Masato Aoki as he was working inside the town office.

«We’ve been putting top priority on saving people’s lives but from now, we should work towards rebuilding so residents can lead a normal life soon,» he added.

Some 1,650 households in Hokkaido are still without water supplies, and fully re-establishing the supply system is expected to take about one month, according to the prefectural government.

Atsuma has found that at least 220 buildings within the town have been affected by the quake along with roads and farmlands.

The quake, which damaged the Tomatoatsuma power plant and forced many plants to come to an emergency halt, temporarily caused a massive power outage covering the entire prefecture, affecting some 1.95 million households.

(People line up at a food distribution station)

Power supplies have been largely restored since, but the plant’s full resumption is not expected until November at the earliest, meaning Hokkaido’s residents and businesses will continue to be asked to minimize their power use for some time to come.

The Tomatoatsuma plant, the largest thermal power plant in the prefecture which produced about half of the prefectural power output at the time, suffered multiple damage to its facility and soil liquefaction was confirmed at its premises, according to its operator Hokkaido Electric Power Co.

The phenomenon, in which soil becomes saturated with ground water and loses its solidity due to shaking, will not affect the plant’s recovery work, the company said.

All — Kyodo News+

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