Disasters & Accidents

At least 57 dead from Japan west coast earthquake

Tokyo, Jan 3 (EFE).- There are now at least 57 deaths from the magnitude 7.6 earthquake that hit the western coast of central Japan, local governments said Wednesday, while reports of new damage continued as rescue teams battled to find survivors.

In towns such as Wajima, Noto or Suzu, all near the epicenter, City Councils are still trying to quantify collapsed buildings and structures.

In the last of them, “about 90 percent of the houses have been totally or partially destroyed,” mayor Masuhiro Izumiya said in statements reported by Kyodo news agency.

Wajima and Suzu have registered 24 deaths each, and the total number of those seriously injured in the region now stands at 22.

The earthquake in turn caused a large fire in the first of these towns, but firefighters finally managed to control the flames, according to the government of Ishikawa prefecture, the most affected by the earthquake.

Two days after the earthquake, it is still difficult to know the full extent of the damage due to the amount of debris, ditches or rising earth blocking streets and highways.

According to the Japanese Geospatial Information Authority, ground rises of up to four meters have been detected in Wajima and up to one in Suzu.

The Japan Meteorological Agency warned that even low rainfall could increase the risk of landslides, as inclement weather continued Wednesday morning.

According to the latest data published Tuesday, more than 57,000 people remained evacuated in the prefectures of Ishikawa and Niigata, while 1,000 members of the army participated in rescue and assistance work.

The earthquake that hit the Noto Peninsula – an area known to have active faults – on Monday, had its epicenter 30 kilometers northeast of Wajima and reached level 7 on the Japanese closed scale of 7, which focuses on the destructive power of the tremor.

Level 7 describes a ground vibration that makes standing impossible.

The earthquake, the most devastating in Japan since the 2016 earthquake in Kumamoto prefecture (which left more than 200 dead), is the first level 7 tremor to be recorded in the country since 2018, when an earthquake reached level 7 in Hokkaido.

However, this earthquake did not cause major damage as it occurred in a very sparsely populated area of the country.

Monday’s earthquake also forced the activation of a tsunami warning on much of the coasts of the archipelago for almost an entire day, although the rises in sea level recorded fortunately did not cause significant damage. EFE

tk-asb/lds

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