In Japan, 'Race Against Time' for Quake Survivors

62 are dead, and tens of thousands of homes destroyed
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2024 6:09 AM CST
Updated Jan 3, 2024 12:30 AM CST
In Japan, 'Race Against Time' for Quake Survivors
A vehicle is toppled by a collapsed street near Anamizu town in the Noto peninsula facing the Sea of Japan, northwest of Tokyo, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024, following Monday's deadly earthquake. A series of powerful earthquakes that hit western Japan damaged thousands of buildings, vehicles, and boats.   (AP Photo/Hiro Komae)
UPDATE Jan 3, 2024 12:30 AM CST

The death toll in Japan after a series of strong earthquakes rose to 62 Wednesday, and rescue workers continued to work to free people feared to be trapped under the rubble, the AP reports. Dozens of others were injured, and some areas still had not seen water, power, or cell phone service restored as of Wednesday.

Jan 2, 2024 6:09 AM CST

Rescuers in Japan were struggling to reach the northern tip of a peninsula that bore the brunt of a powerful New Year's Day earthquake and triggered hundreds of strong aftershocks. The latest:

  • Toll: The death toll was at 48 Tuesday morning, reports the AP, but because tens of thousands of houses were destroyed, it will take some time to get a more accurate count.
  • Where: The magnitude 7.6 quake struck Ishiwaka prefecture on the west coast of central Japan on Monday afternoon. Most of the casualties are in the city of Wajima, which is located on the northern tip of the Noto peninsula, reports Reuters. Rescuers were having trouble reaching the hardest-hit zone.

  • The race: "The search and rescue of those impacted by the quake is a battle against time," said Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during an emergency meeting on Tuesday. Temperatures dipped below freezing overnight. Aerial footage showed collapsed roads, landslides, and a major fire that burned out of control in Wajima.
  • Land shift: Land near the epicenter appears to have shifted 4 feet to the west, reports the Guardian. In the town of Anamizu and the city of Suzu, Japan's Geospatial Information Authority reports a westward shift of about 3 feet.
  • Prepared: One saving grace is that people in the region, which has been struck previously by quakes, tend to have emergency supplies for just this kind of situation. "There is probably no people on earth other than Japanese who are so disaster-ready," said Toshitaka Katada, a University of Tokyo professor who specializes in disasters. He warned, however, citing the risk of more aftershocks and tsunamis, "This is far from over."
  • Meanwhile, a military plane en route with earthquake aid collided with a passenger plane in Tokyo, killing five.
(More Japan earthquake stories.)

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