Philip Fong Agence France-Presse The thousands of rescuers from across Japan, who continue to explore the rubble in search of bodies, must contend with the snow that fell on the region on Monday, depositing in layers of more than 10 cm in places, and temperatures not exceeding 4°C.
Harumi Ozawa – Agence France-Presse and Kyoko Hasegawa – Agence France-Presse to Shika
January 8, 2024
The estimate of the number of missing after the powerful earthquake that shook central Japan on January 1 was tripled Monday afternoon to exceed the threshold of 300, according to a provisional count which shows 168 dead in the region.
A week after the 7.5 magnitude earthquake which also left 565 injured, 323 people are now missing according to a new report from local authorities Monday afternoon.
The majority of people whose loved ones have not heard from were reported in the town of Wajima, one of the hardest hit by the disaster, on the Noto Peninsula on the Sea of Japan . The city was notably the scene of serious fires.
The earthquake, followed by hundreds of aftershocks, caused thousands of landslides and the collapse of buildings and roads throughout the region.
It also triggered a tsunami with waves more than a meter high on the coast of the Noto peninsula, a narrow strip of land about a hundred kilometers long.
The tremor was felt as far away as Tokyo, 300 kilometers away.
“At all costs prevent” new deaths
The thousands of rescuers from all over Japan, who continue to explore the rubble in search of bodies, must deal with the snow that fell on the region on Monday, depositing in layers of more 10cm in places, and temperatures not exceeding 4°C.
“For all those waiting for help under the rubble and for their families, please do not give up your efforts,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida urged during a meeting on Monday, as quoted by the TV channel. television FNN.
New landslides due to precipitation are feared and icy conditions are expected to further complicate traffic on roads damaged by the earthquake, authorities have warned.
The emergency services are also continuing their efforts to reach more than 2,000 people, sometimes in critical situations, isolated due to roads damaged by the earthquake, and to deliver food and equipment to them.
Hiroshi Hase, the governor of the Ishikawa department where Noto is located, stressed to public broadcaster NHK that it was necessary “at all costs to prevent deaths” among the refugees from the disaster, while some 29,000 people were sheltered in 404 government shelters on Sunday.
“Providing people with the minimum amount of humanitarian aid so that they can survive is a challenge,” Hisayoshi Kondo, head of a dispatched medical assistance team, told Asahi TV. on site, estimating that “in isolated areas, the supply of water and food is still insufficient”.
Critical health situation
But because of the difficult access to places where residents are taking refuge, even “sending relief materials from across the country does not solve the problem,” this doctor commented.
According to the mayor of the city of Wajima, the health situation is critical in the shelters.
“Evacuation centers are crowded and infectious diseases like norovirus and COVID are emerging,” Shigeru Sakaguchi warned Sunday during a meeting on disaster relief , according to the daily Asahi Shimbun.
The governor of Ishikawa said authorities were preparing additional places of refuge with sufficient water, food and heaters, including requisitioning hotel rooms.< /p>
Approximately 17,000 homes were still without electricity, and 70,000 homes did not have access to running water on Sunday.
This earthquake is the first to cause the death of more than 100 people in Japan since the devastating Kumamoto earthquake which killed 276 people in 2016.
Located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Japan is one of the countries where earthquakes are most frequent.
The archipelago is haunted by the memory of the terrible 9.0 magnitude earthquake followed by a giant tsunami in March 2011 on its northeastern coasts, a disaster which left some 20,000 dead and missing .
This disaster also led to the Fukushima nuclear accident, the most serious since Chernobyl in 1986.