Japan earthquake death toll hits 161, snow hampers rescue


Published: 2024-01-08 10:25

Last Updated: 2024-05-22 12:49

Japan earthquake death toll hits 161, snow hampers rescue
Japan earthquake death toll hits 161, snow hampers rescue

The death toll from the earthquake that occurred in Japan in the early days of the new year has risen to 161, according to Monday's tally. Rescue efforts are complicated due to snow accumulation, with over 2,000 people still trapped, many without electricity, and in crowded emergency shelters.

Authorities reported that 103 people are still missing after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake rocked buildings, ignited a massive fire, and triggered tsunami waves exceeding one meter in the central Ishikawa region. As of Sunday, nearly a week after the earthquake, over 2,000 people remain trapped due to earthquake damage and landslides.

In the last two days, a layer of snow has accumulated, with some areas receiving more than 10 centimeters (four inches) overnight, further complicating the rescue operation.

Against all odds, a woman in her nineties survived after spending five days under the rubble of a collapsed house in the city of Suzu before being rescued on Saturday, according to AFP.

Rescue teams could be heard calling out to the woman in footage from police scenes shared by local media.

Luck wasn't on everyone's side, as 52-year-old Naoyuki Teramoto, unable to move, was discovered on Monday after the tragic finding of the bodies of three of his four children in the town of Anamizu.

Government intensifies relief efforts

Days of continuous rainfall have increased the risk of additional landslides, while the new heavy snowfall could lead to more building collapses, warned the government.

Electricity was cut off in about 18,000 homes in the Ishikawa region on Monday, and over 66,100 households were without water as of Sunday.

For the 28,800 people in government shelters, many were without sufficient water, electricity, and heating, according to reports from Japanese media.

Preventing disaster-related deaths is our top priority. I want to improve the poor conditions in the shelters," said Ishikawa Governor Hiroshi Hase.

The primary focus has been on rescuing people trapped under debris and reaching isolated communities, according to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, speaking to NHK on Sunday.

He added that the government had "deployed helicopters from various police and fire departments" along with small teams of forces on foot to reach isolated communities. It's worth noting that Japan experiences hundreds of earthquakes each year, though most cause no harm due to strict building regulations enforced for over four decades.

The country is reminded of the massive earthquake in 2011 that triggered a tsunami, leaving about 18,500 people dead or missing and causing a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima plant.