Houses damaged by a landslide caused by an earthquake, are seen in Atsuma town in Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, Japan, Sept. 6, 2018. Kyodo/via REUTERS

UPDATE: 7:00 a.m. EDT - The death toll in the powerful earthquake has touched nine with over 220 others injured, according to local media reports. Power outages were reported at 349 hospitals in Hokkaido, out of which 34 were disaster hospitals. Tokyo Fire Department dispatched about 100 emergency fire assistance troops by ferry to the prefecture.

UPDATE: 4:10 a.m. EDT - The death toll in the Hokkaido earthquake rose to 8, according to latest reports. Around 147 people were injured and 40 others were reported missing. Japan Self-Defense Forces dispatched 4,900 personnel for relief operations.

UPDATE: 3.30 a.m. EDT - Chief Cabinet Secretary Yuki Kan confirmed that death toll in the powerful Hokkaido earthquake has touched seven. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said power outages were reported at 249 hospitals, out of which 29 were disaster hospitals. An infant is in a serious condition after her oxygen inhaler stopped working at one of the hospitals.

Original story

A powerful earthquake of magnitude 6.7 hit Japan's northern island of Hokkaido early Thursday, killing 2 and trapping a number of people. The quake also cut power supplies to all 2.95 million homes in the prefecture and forced Tomari nuclear plant to run on emergency power.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the station’s fuel rods are being cooled with emergency power supplied by diesel generators, while maintaining that there were no radiation irregularities at the plant, Reuters reported. Tohoku Electric Power Co. confirmed the Higashidori nuclear power plant in nearby Aomori prefecture is safe.

Power outages have also affected around 80 hospitals, telephone service and television broadcasting in the prefecture.

According to reports, the seismic event caused multiple landslides that buried parts of the prefecture with over 32 people reported missing. Police said a number of houses were buried after mountain slopes collapsed in the prefecture and rescue operations are continuing in the area. According to Kyodo News, over 100 people were hurt in cities including the prefectural capital of Sapporo.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) warned that earthquakes with a similar intensity could continue in the area for about a week. It did not pose tsunami risk, the agency added.

Toshiyuki Matsumori of the meteorological agency said, "Large quakes often occur, especially within two to three days of a big one, we urge residents to pay full attention to seismic activity and rainfall and not to go into dangerous areas.”

A terminal building ceiling collapsed at the New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido — the country’s fifth-busiest, forcing it to close. It will remain shut for the entire day, the transport ministry said adding that about 200 flights were canceled due to this, affecting over 40,000 passengers. Bullet and local train services will also be disrupted, it informed.

Local broadcaster NHK reported that public bus services were also shut down and many highways were closed. Schools will also remain closed for the day.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that the government has set up a command center to coordinate relief and rescue. He said saving lives was the government’s top priority. At the request of the governor of Hokkaido, Harumi Takahashi, self-defense forces will dispatch 25,000 personnel for relief operations. Evacuation shelters are being set up in many towns and cities.

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck under the ocean off the coast of the northern city of Sendai in Japan. The quake also set off a series of massive tsunami, killing nearly 20,000 people and devastating a wide swathe of the Pacific coastline. It also damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant, leading to a series of explosions and meltdowns.

The quake struck Japan a few days after Typhoon Jebi killed at least 10 people and left a trail of destruction across the nation.