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What’s the Personal Impact of Japan’s Earthquake? Prime Minister’s Urgent Plea for Support

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Japan is grappling with the aftermath of a major earthquake that struck Ishikawa prefecture on the main island of Honshu, resulting in a reported death toll of 24 and leaving numerous individuals feared trapped under the debris. The 7.5-magnitude quake, which occurred on New Year’s Day, has brought forth a trail of destruction, including buildings reduced to rubble, fires, and disrupted infrastructure.

One of more than 150 earthquakes recorded in the region on Tuesday morning triggered tsunami waves exceeding one meter in height, exacerbating the damage. The port of Wajima was particularly hard-hit, with a reported seven casualties. The Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, expressed deep concern, stating, “Very extensive damage has been confirmed, including numerous casualties, building collapses, and fires.”

As daylight revealed the scale of destruction on the Noto Peninsula, scenes of devastation unfolded with buildings still smoldering, houses flattened, and fishing boats either sunk or washed ashore. The powerful quake, which resulted in a major fire in Wajima, also caused a seven-story building to collapse, as captured by aerial news footage.

The search and rescue efforts are underway, with rescuers battling against time and powerful aftershocks to locate survivors. Six people have been confirmed dead, but the toll is expected to rise as the response teams reach more affected areas. A sense of urgency permeates the disaster response, with the Prime Minister emphasizing the need to race against time in rescuing victims.

The earthquake prompted a significant evacuation order affecting around 62,000 people, and many cities are grappling with power outages and a lack of running water. With temperatures dropping to freezing overnight, the challenges for those affected are compounded.

Despite the widespread destruction, the earthquake did not trigger the large-scale tsunamis initially feared. Japan lifted all tsunami warnings on 2nd Jan, providing some relief amid the ongoing crisis. However, the focus remains on immediate humanitarian efforts, including providing shelter, medical aid, and essential supplies to those affected.

In addition to the human toll, the earthquake has disrupted transportation infrastructure, with several major highways closed, and bullet train services from Tokyo suspended. Defense Minister Minoru Kihara stated that 1,000 military personnel are preparing to join the relief efforts, and military aircraft have been dispatched to survey the damage.

Japan, known for experiencing frequent earthquakes, has been facing a steady increase in seismic activity in the Noto Peninsula region since 2018, as highlighted in a government report last year. The tragic event draws poignant parallels with the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami that claimed thousands of lives and triggered a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima atomic plant.

As the rescue operations continue, global attention turns to Japan, with US President Joe Biden offering any necessary assistance to cope with the aftermath. The unfolding situation underscores the resilience of the Japanese people in the face of natural disasters and the need for international support during these challenging times.

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