Death toll nears 40 from Japan earthquake

The powerful earthquake that struck Japan's northern island of Hokkaido has killed at least 37 people.

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 4600 people.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the 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.

Australian Associated Press