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22 June, 2024
 
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Massive quake strikes Japan on New Year's Day, leaving 48 dead

The 7.6 quake caused ''extensive damage,'' with rescue efforts becoming a race against time

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In a devastating turn of events, at least 48 people have lost their lives following a powerful earthquake that rocked the central coast of Japan on New Year's Day.

As reported by Al Jazeera, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warns of "widespread" damage, with rescue teams facing challenges in reaching remote areas, raising fears of a rising casualty count.

The magnitude 7.6 quake struck near the Noto peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture on Monday afternoon, triggering the country's first major tsunami warning since 2011. Kishida describes the aftermath as causing "extensive damage," with buildings collapsing, fires igniting, and rescue efforts becoming a race against time.

Rescue teams are encountering difficulties reaching the northern tip of the Noto peninsula, where widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure has been reported. A tsunami warning, initially issued, was later downgraded, providing some relief.

Suzu, a coastal town near the quake's epicenter, faces a catastrophic situation, with Mayor Masuhiro Izumiya estimating the destruction of up to 1,000 houses. Across Ishikawa prefecture, authorities confirm 30 deaths, with half occurring in the hard-hit city of Wajima in the remote northern tip of the peninsula.

Wajima experienced a tsunami of at least 1.2 meters, leading to a major fire and the collapse of a seven-story building at the port. Aerial footage reveals the devastation, with residents being evacuated in the dark amid the chaos.

Nobuko Sugimori, a 74-year-old resident, describes the quake as violently swaying, causing cracks in her home's front wall and scattering furniture. Despite the chaos, some count their blessings, like 73-year-old Fujiko Ueno, who had nearly 20 people in her house for a New Year celebration, miraculously avoiding injuries.

The disaster forced the evacuation of nearly 100,000 people across nine prefectures, with many seeking refuge in sports halls and school gymnasiums. Power outages affect almost 33,000 households in Ishikawa prefecture, and water shortages are reported in most areas of the northern Noto peninsula.

As the nation grapples with the aftermath, the Imperial Household Agency cancels Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako's New Year's appearance. International leaders express condolences and readiness to assist, emphasizing the solidarity between nations during this challenging time.

[With information sourced from Al Jazeera]

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