National

Hokkaido marks first anniversary of earthquake that left 44 people dead

Kyodo

Hokkaido on Friday marked the first anniversary of a powerful earthquake that claimed 44 lives and triggered the nation’s first prefecture-wide blackout.

The magnitude 6.7 quake jolted Hokkaido in the early hours of Sept. 6, injuring 785 people and damaging thousands of homes.

Hundreds of thousands of people across the prefecture joined a disaster drill the same day based on a scenario that a large-scale quake had rocked the area at 10 a.m.

As of Thursday, 425 people remained in temporary housing in Atsuma, where 37 people were killed as a result of the quake and subsequent landslides, and in the neighboring towns of Abira and Mukawa.

“I prayed for the victims’ souls and conveyed my wish that they would watch over us making progress in the town’s reconstruction,” Atsuma Mayor Shoichiro Miyasaka said. “We’d like to thrive by taking up the batons of their lives.”

According to the regional government, the number of buildings damaged in the quake totaled 31,457, with 2,215 homes destroyed or severely damaged.

In Atsuma and Abira, 129 people are still being accommodated in a large housing facility, while in Mukawa, 26 people are still living in a temporary dormitory belonging to a local high school baseball club.

In six Hokkaido municipalities, including the three quake-hit towns and Sapporo, around 400 people are temporarily residing in private lodgings rented on their behalf by the government, with many others living in public housing.

All of Hokkaido’s 2.95 million homes were temporarily affected by a power outage after the Tomato-Atsuma thermal power plant, which produces nearly half of the region’s electricity, stopped in the wake of the quake.

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