Japan lifts tsunami warnings, but warns of widespread damage caused by the earthquake.

Japan lifts tsunami warnings, but warns of widespread damage caused by the earthquake.

On New Year’s Day, a massive earthquake struck the coast of central Japan, resulting in at least 48 reported deaths. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida warned that the damage from the quake was “widespread” and casualties were likely to increase. The magnitude 7.6 earthquake occurred near the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture, triggering the country’s first major tsunami warning since the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Prime Minister Kishida stated that there has been “extensive damage,” including collapsed buildings and fires. The search and rescue efforts are being described as a race against time.

Rescuers are encountering difficulties reaching the northern tip of the Noto Peninsula due to damaged roads and infrastructure. Helicopter surveys have revealed numerous fires and widespread damage. Approximately 120 individuals are currently awaiting rescue. The full extent of the fallout is yet to be determined due to hindered assessment efforts.

Although the initial tsunami warning was lifted on Tuesday morning, the situation remains dire in Suzu, a coastal town near the epicenter of the quake. The mayor of Suzu stated that as many as 1,000 houses may have been destroyed, describing the situation as catastrophic. In Ishikawa prefecture, authorities have confirmed 30 deaths so far, with half of them occurring in the hard-hit city of Wajima.

Witnesses have recounted their experiences during the earthquake. Nobuko Sugimori, a resident of Ishikawa, shared that she had never experienced such a powerful quake before. She struggled to hold onto her TV set as she swayed violently during the tremors. The quake left a large crack in the front wall of her home and scattered her furniture.

In the aftermath of the disaster, nearly 100,000 people across nine prefectures have been evacuated and sought shelter in sports halls and school gymnasiums. Thousands of households in Ishikawa remain without power, and water supply has been disrupted in many areas. The Imperial Household Agency canceled Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako’s New Year’s appearance in light of the situation.

Japan’s allies, including the United States, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom, have expressed their condolences and willingness to provide assistance. US President Joe Biden stated that the United States stands with Japan during this difficult time, emphasizing the strong bond between the two nations. French President Emmanuel Macron expressed solidarity, and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni offered condolences and assistance. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is closely monitoring the developments and expressed his thoughts for all those affected by the earthquakes in Japan.

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