On Tuesday (2 January), Japanese rescue teams raced against time and potent aftershocks to locate survivors of a significant earthquake that hit on New Year's Day. The quake reportedly claimed the lives of over 20 people and left a path of devastation in its wake.
The 7.5-magnitude quake, which hit Ishikawa prefecture on the main island of Honshu, triggered tsunami waves more than a metre high, toppled buildings, caused a major port fire and tore apart roads.
With the break of dawn, the extent of the devastation on the Noto Peninsula became evident.
Buildings continued to smoulder, homes were reduced to rubble, and fishing boats were either submerged or stranded on the shore.
Authorities reported the death of six individuals, but they expect this number to increase.
According to the Kyodo news agency, the death toll has reached 24, with seven of these fatalities occurring in the severely impacted port of Wajima.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida confirmed widespread destruction after a disaster response meeting, stating, "Very extensive damage has been confirmed, including numerous casualties, building collapses and fires".
"We have to race against time to search for and rescue victims of the disaster," Kishida added.
News footage taken from the air revealed the extensive damage caused by a severe fire in Wajima, resulting in the collapse of a seven-storey building.
The local energy supplier reported that nearly 45,000 homes in the region experienced power outages as temperatures plummeted to freezing levels overnight. Additionally, numerous cities lacked access to running water.
The earthquake, which registered a magnitude of 7.5 according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), was measured at 7.6 by Japan's meteorological agency. They also noted that it was one among over 150 tremors that rattled the region until Tuesday morning.
On Monday, Wajima was struck by waves that were at least 1.2 metres (four feet) high, while a number of smaller tsunamis were reported in other locations.
All tsunami warnings were lifted by Japan on Tuesday as the predictions of significantly larger waves turned out to be unfounded.
Kuldeep is Senior Editor (Newsroom) at Swarajya. He tweets at @kaydnegi.
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