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Shallow M5.7 aftershock hits Hokkaido, evacuation of landslide-prone areas advised, Japan

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A strong earthquake registered by the JMA as M5.7 hit the Japanese island of Hokkaido at 12:22 UTC (21:22 JST) on February 21, 2019. The agency is reporting a depth of 30 km (18.6 miles). USGS registered it M5.5 at a depth of 41.2 km (25.6 miles). 

The epicenter was located 24.3 km (15.1 miles) E of Chitose (92 942), 34.4 km (21.4 miles) NE of Tomakomai (population 174 806), 36.1 km (22.4 miles) ESE of Kitahiroshima (population 62 370), and 45.8 km (28.4 miles) SSE of Iwamizawa (population 85 107), Japan.

There are 3 410 000 people living within 100 km (62 miles).

630 000 people are estimated to have felt moderate shaking, 2 418 000 light and 4 234 000 weak.

JMA said the quake is an aftershock of M6.7 quake of September 5, 2018, urging residents to remain cautious as more earthquakes are possible.

Local authorities report 3 people with minor injuries, according to the NHK.

Street lights went out temporarily and some 100 homes are without drinking water. Avalanches were reported in the town of Atsuma. This area suffered major landslides after the M6.7 mainshock. See video below:

Video courtesy KYODO. Landslides after M6.7 earthquake hit Hokkaido on September 5, 2018

An earthquake expert warns there may be dangerous spots where last year's quake has loosened the ground and they contain water from the snowmelt. He is calling on people living near any sloping land or hillsides to evacuate as a precaution.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said they are putting all efforts into collecting information about any damage, including landslides.

About 120 people will have to stay overnight at New Chitose airports because the railways have suspended service until Friday morning (local time).

Nearly 700 people were temporarily stranded in the train cars and more than 250 will have to remain there overnight.

Featured image credit: Google, TW/SAM

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