A magnitude 6.6 earthquake has hit northern Japan near the major city of Sapporo, the US Geological Survey reports.
The agency said the earthquake struck the northern island of Hokkaido at about 3 a.m. local time on Thursday and had a depth of 33.4 kilometers (21 miles).
While no tsunami warning has been issued, police told Accuweather that people may have been buried alive when homes collapsed.
Police said at least five houses collapsed in the earthquake, and there are also reports of collapsed roads and power outages.
National broadcaster NHK reported that an 82-year-old man was found without vital signs.
The quake’s epicenter is about 27.3 kilometers (17 miles) east of the city of Tomakomai, which has a population of about 175,000, and 64.8 kilometers (40.3 miles) southeast of Sapporo, which is a major metropolitan area of 1.9 million people.
An aftershock measuring magnitude 5.3 hit the region just minutes after the first quake.
The Kyodo news service reports that in Tokyo, the central government set up a liaison unit at the crisis management center of the prime minister’s office to gather information on the temblor.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed officials to ascertain the extent of damage and extend a helping hand to those affected.
The news service reports that the quake triggered a blackout across a wide area in Hokkaido. It also affected telephone service and television broadcasting in Sapporo.