Disasters & Accidents

Calls for caution in Japan over storms in deadly quake-affected area

Update 1: Adds information about emergency aid

Tokyo, Jan 9 (EFE).- Japanese authorities called Tuesday for extreme caution due to the storm of rain and snow in areas affected by the New Year’s Day earthquake that has left at least 180 dead in the country.

Seismic activity continued in the Noto peninsula and its surroundings approximately a week after the magnitude 7.6 tremor, where 1,248 earthquakes of measurable intensity had occurred as of Tuesday morning, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The hardest hit area is Ishikawa prefecture, with 81 fatalities in the town of Wajima and 71 deaths in Suzu, while at least 565 people have been seriously injured.

Meteorological authorities said the activity could last for at least a month and asked for caution both due to this and amid rainstorms and snow that could cause landslides and avalanches, or lead to the collapse of buildings and unstable homes.

The government will allocate more than JPY4.7 billion ($32 million) from its reserve funds to send humanitarian aid to the Noto peninsula.

It approved the funds during a Tuesday ministerial meeting and said it would use them to cover expenses on basic necessities, including food, water and fuel, to the areas most affected by the earthquake.

Japan has also begun to draw up medium and long-term plans for reconstruction tasks, which will also include sending aid packages so victims of the disaster can begin to rebuild their lives, NHK said.

Some 28,000 people remained displaced Monday and thousands of homes continued to experience power outages while temperatures dropped below zero in seriously affected areas, leading to caution over possible hypothermia.

Rescue teams continued Tuesday their search for the missing in these adverse weather conditions, as official figures say they amount to 120 people.

The estimated number of missing people has varied enormously due to the difficulty to access isolated areas as a result of closures and damaged roads, laden with obstacles due from the earthquake and its aftershocks.

Some 6,100 members of the Japanese armed forces have joined rescue teams and those sent from other provinces to participate in rescue efforts, which have proven complicated and insufficient in some areas, according to testimonies from those affected. EFE

mra/lds

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