Tokyo - SPA
Japan Quake Toll Rises to 21 as Search Efforts Continue

Japanese rescuers were Saturday desperately searching for missing
residents whose houses were buried by landslides triggered by a powerful
earthquake on the northern island of Hokkaido, as dpa reported.

At least 21 people died in the magnitude-6.7 quake that hit Hokkaido
early Thursday. Thirteen people remain missing, government spokesman
Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

About 40,000 people, including soldiers, firefighters and police
officials, "are working around the clock to engage in search and rescue
operations," Suga said.

The search operations were focusing on a sparsely populated area of
Atsuma Town, where the quake set off massive landslides that destroyed
houses and roads.

About 12,000 people were taking shelter in temporary evacuation
centres while a series of aftershocks continue to jolt the region.

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