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Rain complicates rescue work in Japan after New Year's earthquake

Kyodo News via Associated Press La péninsule de Noto et ses villes portuaires de Wajima et Suzu ressemblent désormais à des zones de guerre, après le séisme du Nouvel An. On voit ici des pompiers à Wajima, mercredi.

Rescue workers in Japan faced very unfavorable weather on Wednesday, and they are still trying to find survivors of the powerful earthquake that hit the center of the country on Monday, which left at least 73 dead, according to a new provisional report.

Along the roads, very damaged by subsidence or blocked by falling trees, large signs warn of possible landslides.

Authorities are calling for caution due to the heavy rains that have been falling since Wednesday morning and their consequences across the entire Noto Peninsula, in Ishikawa Prefecture, a long, thin strip of land which enters the Sea of ​​Japan.

Emergency vehicles find their way with difficulty on roads blocked by large stones and uprooted trees.

“Be alert for landslides until Wednesday evening,” the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

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The Noto Peninsula and its port towns of Wajima and Suzu now resemble war zones after the New Year's earthquake. It struck mainly this region at 4:10 p.m., reaching magnitude 7.5, according to the American Institute of Geophysics, and 7.6, according to the JMA.

Several hundred aftershocks, these new seismic tremors following the main shock – some also strong – have occurred since this earthquake, and the tsunami which followed on Monday, with waves of more than one meter, swept away many boats, stranded on docks or seaside roads.

Thousands of buildings on the Noto Peninsula were entirely or partially destroyed by the disaster and may still be destroyed by aftershocks, making rescue operations difficult. At each alert, rescuers must urgently evacuate the rubble.

Regional authorities report 73 dead and nearly 400 injured, a toll that is expected to rise.

“Catastrophic” situation

Masuhiro Izumiya, the mayor of Suzu, said “virtually no homes” were still standing in part of this small town at the tip of the Noto Peninsula, according to television station TBS. “The situation is catastrophic. »

More than 33,400 people are taking refuge in accommodation centers set up in different villages, according to the authorities, and nearly 30,000 homes are still without electricity in the Ishikawa department.

More than 110,000 homes in Ishikawa and two other departments are also deprived of running water, the Japanese government said on Wednesday.

“I am here [in a shelter] because I no longer have electricity, gas or water at home. And since there are always aftershocks, my house could collapse at any time,” Yuko Okuda, 30, a resident of Anamizu, another small town on the Noto peninsula, told Agence France-Presse.

“With an earthquake of magnitude 7.5, you should expect to have aftershocks for several months,” geologist Robin Lacassin, director of the earthquake, told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday. research at the National Center for Scientific Research.

The Ishikawa Department has asked Japanese people to stop calling earthquake-affected loved ones to save their phone batteries for essential calls.

The shinkansen, Japan's high-speed trains, resumed service Tuesday in central Japan after some 2,400 passengers spent hours — some 24 hours — stranded on tracks or in stations.

The region's highways have also reopened, making it easier to restock food and essential goods, although road conditions are slowing deliveries.

“More than 40 hours have passed since the disaster. We have a lot of testimonies from people who need to be rescued,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Wednesday, after a new crisis meeting.

“This is a race against time, and we continue to do our best to save lives, our priority,” he recalled.

Located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Japan is one of the countries with the most frequent earthquakes in the world.

The Japanese archipelago is haunted by the memory of the terrible 9.0 magnitude earthquake followed by a giant tsunami that occurred in March 2011 on its northeastern coasts, a disaster which left some 20,000 people dead or missing.

This disaster also led to the Fukushima nuclear accident, the worst since Chernobyl in 1986.

This time, the series of earthquakes caused only minor damage to the nuclear power plants installed along the coast, according to their operators.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116