Quake death toll in central Japan tops 80, with 72-hr window closing

Search and rescue operations continued in central Japan after it was struck by a powerful earthquake on New Year’s Day, with the death toll rising above 80 and some 80 more unaccounted for in Ishikawa Prefecture as of Thursday.

In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called for an “all-out effort” to save as many lives as possible during the first 72 hours following the magnitude-7.6 quake disaster, after which the victim survival rate is said to drop sharply.

The government plans to allocate roughly 4 billion yen ($28 million) from reserve funds to beef up its response while doubling the number of Self-Defense Forces members engaging in rescue operations and other efforts to 4,600.

The full extent of the damage is yet unclear due to damaged roads and the disruption to communications in Ishikawa Prefecture.

Many people are still believed to be trapped under rubble in the hard-hit coastal city of Wajima where a major marketplace caught fire and burned down. Some 750 people are stranded in areas such as Wajima and adjacent Suzu as roads leading to the disaster-affected areas have been severed.

A Maritime Self-Defense Force transport ship has arrived off the coast of Wajima and unloaded heavy machinery that will be used for disaster cleanup work.

Concerns are also growing that Wednesday’s rainy weather could trigger landslides in quake-hit areas.

Some 34,000 people in Ishikawa Prefecture have stayed at evacuation centers as of Thursday. According to the central government, at least 200 buildings have collapsed or partially damaged.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has said that Monday’s quake, which struck the Noto Peninsula at 4:10 p.m., was focused around 30 kilometers east-northeast of Wajima.

The temblor registered 7, the highest level, on Japan’s seismic intensity scale in the adjacent town of Shika, and a major tsunami warning was triggered — the first such case since the M9.0 quake hit northeastern Japan in 2011.

At Wajima Port, tsunami waves of at least 1.2 meters high were detected on Monday.


Source KYODO