Japanese rescuers battled against the clock and powerful aftershocks on Tuesday as they searched for survivors of the New Year’s Day earthquake that killed dozens and caused widespread destruction.
The magnitude 7.5 earthquake that struck Ishikawa prefecture on the main island of Honshu triggered tsunami waves more than a meter high, sparked a large fire and destroyed roads.
On the Noto Peninsula, the destruction included buildings damaged by fires, flattened houses, fishing boats sunk or washed ashore, and roads affected by landslides.
“I’m surprised that the house is so broken and that everyone in my family made it out unscathed,” Akiko said, standing outside her parents’ leaning house in the severely damaged town of Wajima.
The way 2024 began “will be etched in my memory forever,” he said after the “long and violent” earthquake.
“It was such a powerful shock,” said Tsugumasa Mihara, 73, as he queued with hundreds of people for water in the nearby town of Shika.
Local authorities have put the death toll at 48, but the number is expected to rise as rescuers sift through the rubble.
“Very significant damage has been confirmed, including numerous casualties, building collapses and fires,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said after a disaster response meeting.
“We have to race against time to search and rescue the victims of the disaster.”