The dawn of the New Year took a dire turn for Japan as a powerful 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck Ishikawa prefecture on the Honshu main island. The catastrophic event unleashed a series of aftershocks, leaving a trail of destruction, claiming lives, and prompting widespread rescue efforts.
Reports indicate that at least 30 individuals have tragically lost their lives due to the quake, with fears lingering for more casualties. Among the hardest-hit areas, the Noto Peninsula suffered immense damage, witnessing collapsed buildings, smoldering remnants, and boats swept ashore.
The earthquake’s impact was compounded by tsunami waves measuring over a meter high, exacerbating the devastation. Areas like Wajima were severely affected, with a seven-storey building collapsing and engulfed in flames, adding to the chaos and destruction.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, after a convened disaster response meeting, expressed deep concern, acknowledging the extensive damage and emphasizing the urgency in locating and rescuing survivors.
The catastrophe left around 45,000 households without power in freezing temperatures overnight. Running water became scarce in many cities, intensifying the plight of affected communities.
The US Geological Survey reported the earthquake as a 7.5 magnitude, while Japan’s meteorological agency measured it at 7.6, amid a series of over 150 tremors that rattled the region on Tuesday morning.
The intensity of the quake prompted national broadcaster NHK to interrupt regular programming, urging citizens to take safety precautions. Though initial tsunami warnings were issued, Japan eventually lifted all alerts.
Social media platforms flooded with distressing visuals showing violent tremors rattling Ishikawa, with terrified individuals seeking refuge in shops and train stations. Houses crumbled, roads cracked, and rescue operations commenced amidst chaos.
The scenes of devastation included firefighters navigating through debris in a collapsed commercial building, shouting words of encouragement while attempting to reach potential survivors.
Ishikawa Governor Hiroshi Hase took to social media to highlight widespread road obstructions due to landslides and cracking, with reports of capsized vessels in the port of Suzu.
Evacuation orders affected 62,000 people, with approximately 1,000 seeking refuge at a military base. Defense Minister Minoru Kihara confirmed military mobilization, with aircraft dispatched for damage assessment.
The earthquake’s impact reached as far as Tokyo, where scheduled events were canceled, and major highways around the epicenter were closed. Bullet train services from Tokyo were also temporarily suspended.
While Japan encounters frequent seismic activity, the gravity of this event recalls the 2011 9.0-magnitude earthquake that triggered a devastating tsunami, resulting in a catastrophic loss of lives and the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Currently, Japan’s nuclear authority reports no irregularities at power plants after this recent quake. Global leaders, including US President Joe Biden and several European counterparts, have extended solidarity and offered assistance to Japan in this challenging time.
The country, having faced past calamities, now stands united in its efforts to overcome this latest tragedy, with rescue operations ongoing amid the widespread devastation.