Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

In the aftermath of the formidable 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck central Japan on January 1, the death toll has surpassed 200, with over 100 individuals still missing, according to authorities. The quake, which wreaked havoc on the Noto Peninsula of Japan’s main island Honshu during New Year’s Day celebrations, resulted in collapsed buildings, fires, and widespread infrastructure damage.

Despite eight days passing since the disaster, rescue efforts are hampered by blocked roads and adverse weather conditions as thousands of responders strive to clear wreckage and reach nearly 3,500 people stranded in isolated communities. The region has experienced over 1,200 aftershocks, and on Tuesday, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast in the Sea of Japan, as reported by Japanese authorities; the United States Geological Survey measured it at 5.8.

Latest figures released by Ishikawa regional authorities reveal 202 confirmed deaths, up from 180 earlier, with 102 individuals still unaccounted for. Heavy snowfall complicates relief efforts, forcing almost 30,000 people into approximately 400 government shelters, some struggling to provide sufficient food, water, and heating. Nearly 60,000 households lack running water, and 15,600 are without electricity due to the quake’s impact and subsequent landslides.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in a disaster-relief meeting on Tuesday, urged ministers to resolve the isolation of affected communities and persist in robust rescue activities. Additionally, he encouraged secondary evacuations to regions outside the quake-hit area. The grim reality of the disaster became evident as stories emerged, such as a woman in her 90s surviving under collapsed wreckage for five days in Suzu city, Ishikawa prefecture. However, not all tales ended in triumph, with Naoyuki Teramoto mourning the discovery of three of his children’s bodies in the town of Anamizu.

While Japan, accustomed to frequent earthquakes, boasts strict building codes, older structures, particularly in aging rural communities like Noto, remain vulnerable. The country, scarred by the devastating 2011 earthquake triggering a tsunami and nuclear catastrophe, now grapples with the aftermath of this recent tragedy.

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