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At least four people were killed and 33 were missing after a powerful natural disaster paralysed Japan's northern island of Hokkaido on Thursday, media reported, but the death toll was likely to rise as rescuers searched houses buried by landslides.

The quake, which struck at 3:08 a.m. (1808 GMT on Wednesday) posed no tsunami risk, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

A powerful quake hit wide areas on Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido this morning triggering huge landslides. A mudslide in Sapporo left several cars half buried. Hokkaido's local disaster agency put the number of injured at 48. The government will send 20,000 more to the affected sites, he said.

Miyasaka said the town had emergency meals for up to 2,000 people and that more than 500 had sought refuge in its emergency shelters.

Kazuo Kibayashi, an official in hard-hit Abira town, told AFP: "There was a sudden, extreme jolt".

After the Japan Football Associated (JFA) were rapidly able to establish that all the players and staff were safe, they took a decision to call the game off due to the situation of the stricken area.

The power outage was the first to affect the entire island.

National broadcaster NHK showed the moment the quake struck the city of Muroran, with its camera violently shaking and all city lights going black moment later.

The quake, which struck with a magnitude 6.7 in the early hours of Thursday morning, has left nearly three million households without electricity.

The shutdown of a key thermal power plant may mean Hokkaido could see its electricity supplies reduced for over a week, a state minister said Thursday, following a powerful quake that rattled the island early that morning.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko initially instructed utility officials to restore power at the Tomato Azuma thermal plant "within a few hours".

The central government set up a crisis management task force at the prime minister's office. Making matters worse for emergency staff is the fact that the quake also knocked out power to much of the region, with close to three million buildings sitting dark as workers do their best to grapple with the damage.

As many as 30 are feared buried beneath the earth and rubble of multiple, large-scale landslides that struck sparsely populated countryside on the northern island of Hokkaido after a 6.6-magnitude quake.

Hokkaido Railway Co. suspended operations on all lines from the scheduled start of runs on the morning of September 6.

Almost 3 million buildings lost power after the quake rocked the island, NHK reported.


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