Japan quake survivors confront freezing rain, landslide threats
Survivors of a New Year's Day earthquake in Japan, which raised the death toll to 64 on Wednesday, are bracing for freezing temperatures and heavy rain. The 7.6 magnitude quake struck the Noto peninsula on Monday, destroying houses and isolating remote areas.
Forecasted heavy rains in the quake-affected regions on Wednesday have sparked fears of landslides, potentially obstructing rescue efforts for those still trapped. Severed roads and damaged infrastructure, combined with the remoteness of the most affected areas, have made rescue operations challenging. The full impact of the quake remains unclear.
As of Tuesday, the death toll had risen to 64, marking this earthquake as Japan's deadliest since at least 2016. The peninsula continues to experience smaller quakes.
Rescue teams from Osaka and Nara are persisting in their search for a woman trapped beneath a collapsed seven-story building, despite rain and aftershocks. The woman, showing no vital signs, is buried under the debris of a wooden structure.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced the opening of a sea route for delivering aid, and larger trucks are now reaching some remote areas. "Over 40 hours have passed since the quake," Kishida said in a disaster response meeting. "We are in a crucial phase of this time-sensitive battle."
Over 33,000 people have evacuated their homes. Some areas, lacking water, electricity, and consistent communication, are in dire need. At a regional emergency disaster meeting on Wednesday, local mayors urged the government to expedite road clearing and aid delivery.
Masuhiro Izumiya, mayor of Suzu, a town near the quake's epicenter, emphasized the urgent need for necessities. "We haven't received a single loaf of bread," he said. Shigeru Sakaguchi, mayor of the severely impacted Wajima city, acknowledged the government's efforts but pointed out the shortfall in aid, with only 2,000 meals for approximately 10,000 evacuees.
He added that many areas, especially outside the city center, remain inaccessible except by helicopter, and some residents are suffering from the cold due to power outages.