What Kiwi travellers to Japan need to know following the earthquake and Typhoon Jebi

AP

A large earthquake has struck Japan's biggest northern island, Hokkaido, collapsing buildings and damaging critical infrastructure.

The northern Japanese island of Hokkaido has suffered a powerful earthquake just two days after Typhoon Jebi wreaked havoc across the country.

Here's what you need to know if you are in Japan or planning to travel there shortly.

What's happened?

A 6.6 magnitude earthquake struck 27 kilometres east of the city of Tomakomai on Hokkaido at 3.07am (6.07am NZT) triggering widespread landslides that covered houses, blocked roads and left people trapped.

A woman covers her face as she takes shelter on a road following the 6.6 magnitude earthquake. (Yu Nakajima/Kyodo News ...
YU NAKAJIMA/AP

A woman covers her face as she takes shelter on a road following the 6.6 magnitude earthquake. (Yu Nakajima/Kyodo News via AP)

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The quake, which also caused building damage and blackouts across the region, was followed by three aftershocks, measuring up to magnitude 4.8. 

There were reports that at least one person was found without vital signs, with people trapped in elevators, buildings and houses following the tremors. Police had reported multiple injuries following the earthquakes.

Flight Centre NZ general manager Sue Matson says it pays for travellers to check first:  "The island's main airport in Sapporo (Chitose - CTS) reports that a number of flights are cancelled or delayed this morning.  It appears though that the airport is not seriously damaged and flights are expected to resume."

The quake follows the worst typhoon to have hit Japan in 25 years. Typhoon Jebi slammed into the western coast of Japan on Tuesday, killing at least 11 people, injuring many more, forcing evacuations and leaving millions of homes without power. 

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The quake came after recent heavy rains which loosened soil, leading to massive landslides.
NHK

The quake came after recent heavy rains which loosened soil, leading to massive landslides.

Matson said Wednesday that Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto were the regions hardest hit by the typhoon and that Tokyo was not in its path. 

Osaka's Kansai International Airport - one of the country's largest - was closed after a fuel tanker crashed into a bridge linking it the mainland. Built on an artificial island almost directly in the typhoon's path, the airport also suffered major flooding and a spokesperson said she was unsure when it would reopen. The airport said on its website that all flights on Thursday had been cancelled and that the reopening time of runways A and B and the airport bridge are "to be confirmed". 

More than 700 hundred flights leaving and arriving in central and western Japan have been cancelled, Matson said.

There has been significant disruption to transport networks, including bullet train services and train routes around the Osaka prefecture. 

Shaking from the quake early Thursday morning measured an "upper 6" on the Japanese quake intensity scale of 7 in Abira ...
USGS

Shaking from the quake early Thursday morning measured an "upper 6" on the Japanese quake intensity scale of 7 in Abira in western Hokkaido.

Some tourist attractions, such as Universal Studios Japan, have also been temporarily closed. 

What should Kiwi travellers do?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has no information to suggest New Zealanders have been affected by the earthquake, a spokesperson said. 

"All New Zealanders in Japan are advised to register their details on safetravel.govt.nz, follow any instructions issued by the local authorities and let their family in New Zealand know they are okay.

Overturned cars on street in Osaka on September 4.
KOTA ENDO/SUPPLIED

Overturned cars on street in Osaka on September 4.

"New Zealanders requiring consular assistance can call the New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo on +81 3 3467 2271 or via email at tky@mfat.govt.nz."

549 New Zealanders are registered with Safetravel as being in Japan. 

The ministry said Kiwis staying in travel accommodation in Japan should follow the advice of accommodation management and tour operators and monitor the media for updates.

"It is generally considered sensible practice not to venture outdoors and remain well away from the sea."

Kansai International Airport is closed indefinitely.
KENTARO IKUSHIMA/MAINICHI NEWSPAPER VIA AP

Kansai International Airport is closed indefinitely.

The ministry advised Kiwi travellers to contact their airlines or travel agents directly to find out whether their flights or other travel arrangements had been disrupted. 

"If your travel is disrupted, ensure you keep all receipts to support your travel insurance claim."

While Japan is not a top destination for Kiwi travellers, Matson said Flight Centre has "a number of customers in the region."

"Our travel experts around the country are being kept updated with information as it becomes available and are working around the clock with those customers in the region, or due to be travelling."

High waves hit breakwaters at a port of Aki in the Kochi prefecture in Western Japan (file photo).
ICHIRO BANNO/KYODO NEWS VIA AP

High waves hit breakwaters at a port of Aki in the Kochi prefecture in Western Japan (file photo).

Matson said those headed to Japan should not just assume their travel plans have been affected, advising anyone set to travel over the coming days to contact their travel agents. 

House of Travel commercial director Brent Thomas also advised Kiwis in or set to travel to Japan to remain in close contact with their travel agents. 

"Due to strong winds some domestic and international flights have been cancelled and we urge travellers to check in with their travel consultants for updates."

While Hokkaido is a popular destination for skiers, it is "not the popular tourist season right now in this area", he said. 

A man looks at a truck overturned in Osaka (file photo).
KOTA ENDO/KYODO NEWS VIA AP

A man looks at a truck overturned in Osaka (file photo).

 - Stuff

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