July 20, 2024

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Japan quake toll hits 30 as rescuers race to find survivors

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Firefighters extinguish a fire in Nanao, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, early on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024.

Soichiro Koriyama | Bloomberg | Getty Images

At least 30 people were killed after a powerful earthquake hit Japan on New Year’s Day, with rescue teams on Tuesday struggling to reach isolated areas where buildings had been toppled, roads wrecked and power cut to tens of thousands of homes.

The quake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.6 struck in the middle of the afternoon on Monday, prompting residents in some coastal areas to flee to higher ground as tsunami waves hit Japan’s west coast, sweeping some cars and houses into the sea.

Thousands of army personnel, firefighters and police officers from across the country have been dispatched to the worst-hit area in the Noto peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture.

However, rescue efforts have been hindered by badly damaged and blocked roads and authorities say they are finding it difficult to assess the full extent of the fallout.

Many rail services, ferries and flights into the area have been suspended. Noto airport has closed due to damage to its runway, terminal and access roads, with 500 people stranded inside cars in its parking lot, according to public broadcaster NHK.

“The search and rescue of those impacted by the quake is a battle against time,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said during an emergency disaster meeting on Tuesday.

Kishida said rescuers were finding it very difficult to reach the northern tip of the Noto peninsula due to wrecked roads, and that helicopter surveys had discovered many fires and widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure.

Authorities in Ishikawa said they had confirmed 30 deaths from the earthquake so far, with half of those fatalities in hard-hit Wajima city near the quake’s epicentre.

Firefighters have been battling blazes in several cities and trying to free more people trapped in collapsed buildings, Japan’s fire and disaster management agency said.

More than 140 tremors have been…

2024-01-01 22:56:00

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