Strong M5.5 earthquake hits Hokkaido Island producing huge landslides, closing the Chitose airport, canceling trains and metro and disrupting mobile communications


A 5.5-magnitude earthquake jolted Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido on Thursday (Feb 21). Although there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage to property, the quake produced huge landslides, closed the Chitose airport, canceled trains and metro and disrupted mobile communications. No tsunami warnings.

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M 5.5 earthquake hits near Chitose, Hokkaido Island in Japan on February 21, 2019. Map via USGS

The quake struck at 9.22pm (8.22pm Singapore time) at a depth of 41 kilometres and 55 kilometres southeast of the city of Sapporo, according to the US Geological Survey.

The Japanese meteorological agency confirmed there was no tsunami risk following the jolt.

Footage from public broadcaster NHK showed lights flickering on and off in a town close to the epicentre.

The government is doing its best to grasp the situation, but so far there has been no report of major damage,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo in the immediate aftermath.

No major blackout was reported, but problems with mobile communications have been reported.

No abnormality was detected at nuclear plants in the region, Suga said, adding that the government was prepared to mount rescue operations if required.

The earthquake closed the runways of the Chitose airport for a while.

Shinkansen bullet train services were temporarily suspended in Hokkaido.

Provoking long line-up at taxi stops.

In September last year, a powerful 6.6-magnitude quake rocked Hokkaido, triggering landslides, collapsing houses and killing more than 42. Scientists believe that the current earthquake is an aftershock of that in 2018 and forecast new earthquakes in the same area in the next 2-3 days. Here some aerial videos of the 2018 earthquake:

More than impressive!

Japan sits at the junction of four tectonic plates and experiences a number of relatively violent quakes every year.

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[Channel News Asia]


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