Rescue efforts are ongoing in Japan following a devastating earthquake that claimed the lives of at least 64 individuals on New Year’s Day.
Devastation struck as homes crumbled, buildings ignited, and roads suffered extensive damage, greatly impeding the efforts of rescue services.
The Noto peninsula in central Japan was the epicentre of the 7.6 magnitude earthquake.
The Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, expressed urgency as emergency services work tirelessly to save survivors.
“It has been over 40 hours since the incident occurred.” There has been a significant amount of information regarding individuals requiring assistance and there are individuals eagerly awaiting aid,” Mr. Kishida stated on Wednesday following an urgent task force gathering.
In addition, he mentioned that a team of 3,000 rescuers is currently working to access various areas of the Noto peninsula. Helicopter surveys revealed numerous fires and extensive destruction to buildings and infrastructure. The city of Wajima, located on the northern tip of Noto, has become isolated from land routes.
In the coastal city of Suzu in Ishikawa prefecture, mayor Masushiro Izumiya informed news outlet Kyodo that a significant majority of homes in the city have been severely damaged or completely destroyed.
Supplies such as food, water, and blankets are being distributed by the Japanese military to those who have been displaced from their homes. A total of 57,360 individuals were required to evacuate, according to the government’s announcement.
Countless meals are being distributed throughout the impacted area.
The tremors persisted throughout Wednesday. The chief cabinet secretary, Yoshimasa Hayashi, urged people to stay vigilant as there may be more earthquakes with an intensity of up to 7 in the coming week.
Ishikawa, located 155km (96.3 miles) south of the Noto peninsula, was struck by a 5.5 magnitude earthquake on Wednesday morning.
The Japanese government issued significant tsunami warnings on Monday, but later revised them. As of Tuesday, all tsunami advisories were lifted along the Sea of Japan, indicating that the threat of massive waves had subsided.
Residents in the impacted region of Japan have been recounting their firsthand accounts of the earthquake, which persisted for several minutes.
An 82-year-old resident of Nanao, Toshio Iwahama, shared with the BBC that his wooden home had experienced partial collapse. According to him, even though he has been through several earthquakes before, he had never felt tremors as intense as these.
Emma Ward, a 41-year-old British tourist, was enjoying a skiing holiday in the picturesque village of Hakuba when the unexpected earthquake struck. Startled by the sudden tremors, she and her companions quickly sought refuge under a sturdy table in a nearby cafe. According to her interview with the BBC, the strength of the tremors led to a complete evacuation of the building. “The most challenging aspect of the earthquake was the uncertainty surrounding its intensity.” Ms Ward described the experience as extremely terrifying.
Numerous individuals also mentioned that the earthquake brought back memories of the catastrophic 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which resulted in the loss of 18,000 lives and led to a nuclear plant incident in Fukushima.
During a separate incident, a Japan Airlines plane caught fire on Tuesday after colliding with a coastguard aircraft at Tokyo’s Haneda airport. The plane was en route to provide earthquake relief.
Tragically, five individuals on the coastguard plane lost their lives, while all 379 passengers and crew members of the Japan Airlines plane were able to safely evacuate.
Japan’s geographical position on the Pacific Ring of Fire makes it highly prone to seismic activity, making it one of the most seismically active nations on Earth.
Japan has developed an incredibly advanced tsunami warning system due to the ongoing risk of earthquakes.