Japan extends rescue operations after deadly earthquake
In Japan, thousands of rescuers are racing against time to find survivors of the New Year's Day earthquake that claimed at least 84 lives. Despite the critical three-day survival window ending on Thursday, efforts to locate survivors are intensifying.
"We must push beyond 72 hours after the disaster," stated Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Survival rates typically decline 72 hours post-earthquake, but so far, 156 people have been rescued. However, at least 79 others remain missing. The earthquake and subsequent tsunami have severely damaged the northernmost areas of the peninsula, with many villages still inaccessible.
Ishikawa prefecture authorities report that 30 villages remain cut off three days after the disaster, with survivors facing a shortage of food, water, electricity, and communications. The 3,000 meals and 5,000 bottles of water delivered to Wajima city’s 11,000 evacuees are insufficient, according to Mayor Shigeru Sakaguchi.
Severed roads are hindering aid and the restoration of essential services, creating nearly 100 chokepoints and blockages. "The road situation into Wajima is very bad, delaying assistance," said Shunsaku Kohriki, a medical worker in the city.
Evacuees face tough conditions with no running water, impacting basic hygiene and care, as 62-year-old Kyoko Kinoshita, queuing for food in Wajima, revealed. The government is stepping up its response, dispatching more Self-Defence Force members, and pledging proactive supply delivery.
Some aid is arriving by sea due to damaged roads, but larger ships are struggling to dock in parts of the Noto peninsula due to the earthquake's impact on the seabed.
The disaster's impact extends to businesses in the region, affecting production lines and dampening hopes for post-pandemic tourism recovery. Companies like Japan Display and Kokusai Electric are repairing damaged facilities.
In a mark of respect for the earthquake victims and a separate Coast Guard accident at Tokyo Haneda airport, the Tokyo Stock Exchange observed a minute of silence. Prime Minister Kishida has pledged about 4 billion yen ($28 million) from the national budget for disaster relief.