39 Dead, One Without Vital Signs In Quake - Hit Area

39 dead, one without vital signs in quake-hit area

Police and local government officials in Hokkaido say the death toll from last week's powerful earthquake and mudslides has risen to 39. Another person has been found without vital signs.

More than 660 people were injured.

The magnitude 6.7 quake struck early Thursday morning.

Most of the fatalities were in the town of Atsuma where massive landslides killed 35 people. The landslides destroyed houses and left roads and rice paddies covered in a thick layer of mud.

One person each died in the cities of Sapporo and Tomakomai and the towns of Mukawa and Shinhidaka.

Police suspect the one person who was found without vital signs early Monday morning could be a 77-year-old man in Atsuma who had been reported missing.

Authorities in Hokkaido say that as of Sunday evening, there were about 2,600 people in evacuation shelters.
The number of destroyed buildings is at least 70.

Public transport is gradually being restored. Some inter-city express trains went into service early Sunday morning.

The distribution of goods is expected to improve as freight train services also resumed on Sunday.

But residents may have to cope with an unstable power supply. Hokkaido Electric Power Company was forced to shut down the largest thermal power plant in the prefecture after the quake, and says restarting it could take more than a week.

The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy is calling on households and companies to conserve power by turning off lights and unplugging household appliances when not in use.