Death toll nears 40 from northern Japan earthquake

Japanese authorities say 37 people have been confirmed dead from a powerful earthquake that struck the northern island of Hokkaido last week.

The Hokkaido government said on Sunday that two people remain missing and one other person has no vital signs.

Rescue workers are using backhoes and shovels to search for the missing in a tangle of dirt and the rubble of homes left by multiple landslides in the town of Atsuma.

All but four of the victims are from the community of 4 600 people.

READ: Japan quake toll up to 20 as rescuers dig through landslides

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited a hard-hit area of Sapporo, the main city in Hokkaido.

The magnitude 6.7 earthquake before daybreak on Thursday knocked out power and train service across Hokkaido.

It took two days to restore electricity to most of the island of 5.4 million people.

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