Tokyo - 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.
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.