JAPAN: Following a powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck central Japan on New Year’s Day, the death toll surged to 92 on Friday (5 Jan), with the number of missing persons reaching a staggering 242, according to regional authorities.
The affected area, particularly the Ishikawa region, has become a scene of devastation, with thousands of rescuers grappling with aftershocks and blocked roads in a desperate race against time.
Despite the valiant efforts of the rescue teams, hopes of finding survivors dwindled as the clock ticked away, marking four days since the catastrophic event.
On Thursday, an elderly woman was miraculously pulled alive from the rubble in the city of Wajima after being trapped for three days on the Noto Peninsula following the earthquake in Ishikawa Prefecture, offering a glimmer of hope amid the widespread despair.
A sniffer dog named Jennifer played a crucial role in locating one of the survivors.
Wajima, one of the worst-hit areas, bore witness to a massive fire that consumed hundreds of structures on the first day, leaving a pungent smell of soot lingering in the air.
The city now stands in ruins, with burnt-out cars, wrecked buildings, and fallen telegraph poles painting a grim picture of the aftermath, as reported by AFP.
Hiroyuki Hamatani, 53, a resident of Wajima, shared his harrowing experience, stating, “I was relaxing on New Year’s Day when the quake happened. My relatives were all there and we were having fun.
“The house itself is standing but it’s far from livable now … I don’t have the space in my mind to think about the future.”
The main tremor, followed by hundreds of aftershocks, has left at least 330 people injured, with approximately 30,000 households without electricity in the Ishikawa region, authorities said.
Additionally, 89,800 homes in Ishikawa and two neighbouring regions were left without water.
Similarly, the Suzu area also experienced severe devastation, with fishing boats sunk or thrown onto the shore by tsunami waves that reportedly swept one person away.
Japan, accustomed to frequent earthquakes, implements strict building codes, yet the Noto region has experienced a surge in both the intensity and frequency of seismic activity over the past five years.
The haunting memory of the massive 9.0-magnitude undersea quake in 2011, which triggered a devastating tsunami and led to one of the worst nuclear disasters in history at the Fukushima atomic plant, looms large in the nation’s collective consciousness.
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