More than 100 people remain missing following the massive earthquake that struck central Japan on January 1; as of Tuesday, the death toll from that disaster has surpassed 200, according to officials.
Just as families were enjoying New Year’s Day in Japan, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck the Noto Peninsula on the main island of Honshu, causing buildings to collapse, flames to spread, and infrastructure to be knocked out. After eight days, thousands of rescuers had to contend with bad weather and closed roads to reach the approximately 3,500 individuals who remained stranded in remote communities and clear the debris. Ishikawa regional authorities issued data on Tuesday indicating that 102 persons were missing, down from 120, and 202 confirmed deaths, up from 180 earlier in the day. After updating central databases on Monday, the number of missing persons was more than tripled to 323 by the authorities; the majority of the increase was attributed to the severely damaged Wajima. But since then “many families let us know that they were able to confirm safety of the persons (on the list)”, Ishikawa official Hayato Yachi told AFP.
Lack of basic supplies due to snowfall
As of Monday, over 30,000 people were residing in 400 government shelters, some of which were overcrowded and had difficulty delivering enough heat, food, and water due to the severe snowfall in some areas that complicated relief efforts. 15,600 families lacked electricity, and nearly 60,000 did not have access to running water. Days of rain have exacerbated road conditions and caused an estimated 1,000 landslides. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida gave ministers instructions to “make efforts of resolving the state of isolation (of communities) and continue tenacious rescue activities” on Tuesday during a daily government meeting on disaster relief.
A ninety-year-old woman survived for 5 days under the rubble
Additionally, Kishida called for additional evacuations to areas outside the earthquake-affected region, senior government spokesperson Yoshimasa Hayashi said to reporters. A ninety-nine-year-old woman was saved on Saturday after spending five days under the rubble of a collapsed house in Suzu, Ishikawa prefecture. “Hang in there!” rescuers were heard calling to the woman, in police footage from the rainy scene published by local media.
Not everyone was as fortunate. Naoyuki Teramoto, 52, was devastated on Monday following the discovery of the bodies of three of his four children in the town of Anamizu. After his daughter passed her high school entrance exam, “we were talking of plans to go to Izu,” a well-known hot spring resort, he said to broadcaster NTV.
Japan has hundreds of earthquakes each year
Japan has hundreds of earthquakes every year, most of which are benign due to stringent building regulations that have been in place for more than 40 years.
However, many buildings are older, particularly in rural places like Noto where aging populations are growing quickly. The devastating 2011 earthquake that rocked the nation, killed about 18,500 people, caused a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima facility, and set forth a tsunami that unsettled the nation.
By: Gursharan Kaur