19 April 2019
People await the resumption of flights at the New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido on Friday. Photo: Kyodo via Reuters
People await the resumption of flights at the New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido on Friday. Photo: Kyodo via Reuters

Hokkaido quake leaves hundreds of HK tourists stranded

About 370 Hong Kong visitors were stranded in Japan after flights were delayed in the wake of a powerful earthquake that struck Hokkaido in the early hours of Thursday, the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong said.

The Hong Kong residents, belonging to at least 13 tourist groups, were all safe, the council said.

Alice Chan, the council’s executive director, told RTHK that it hadn’t received any requests for assistance from Hongkongers stranded in Hokkaido so far.

Hokkaido is Japan’s second largest island and a highly popular destination among Hong Kong travelers.

Chan advised travel agencies and individual travelers to coordinate closely with airlines to make arrangements for their flights home.

A magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck 55 kilometers southeast of Sapporo, Hokkaido’s capital, at 3:08 a.m. local time.

The strong tremor knocked down many homes and other structures and triggered large-scale power outages and water shortage in Sapporo.

It prompted the city’s New Chitose Airport to be shut down and bullet train services on the island to be suspended, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Airport operations were expected to resume with domestic flights on Friday morning. Bullet train services were also scheduled to resume on the same day, local media reports said.

The quake killed at least 16 people and injured more than 360 with many still missing, the reports said.

Local residents and foreign tourists in Sapporo were forced to wait in long lines to get food and water.

A woman from Hong Kong said she and her mother were sleeping in a room on the 11th floor of a hotel in Sapporo when the quake hit.

She said she could only manage to get two rice balls for her and her mother on Thursday because all the restaurants and stores on nearby streets were closed.

She said all they could do was wait for transportation to return home.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong people may see prices of fruits imported from Japan go up before the Mid-Autumn Festival later this month as the country was severely hit by two natural disasters in a week, namely, Typhoon Jebi, which lashed western Japan on Tuesday, and the Hokkaido earthquake.

HK.fruit, an online reseller of fruits from Japan, said the price of crystal pears from Japan’s western Tottori Prefecture is expected to increase by 30 to 50 percent.

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Residents get water from a water tank supplied by the Japan Self-Defence Forces in Atsuma town in Hokkaido on Thursday. Photo: Kyodo via Reuters (lead photo)

People line up in front of an eatery in Sapporo on Thursday. Some restaurants have opened but they are doing their business outside in the wake of the earthquake. Photo: Internet

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