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Japan earthquake: 'Extensive damage confirmed, including numerous casualties,' says PM Fumio Kishida

The 7.5-magnitude quake, which hit Ishikawa prefecture on the main island of Honshu, triggered tsunami waves over a metre high, toppled buildings, caused a major port fire and tore apart roads.

Japan earthquake Extensive damage confirmed including numerous casualties says PM Fumio Kishida gcw
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First Published Jan 2, 2024, 11:29 AM IST

Japanese rescuers battled against the clock and powerful aftershocks Tuesday to find survivors of a major earthquake that struck on New Year's Day, killing at least six people and leaving a trail of destruction.

On the main island of Honshu, the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that struck Ishikawa prefecture resulted in tsunami waves that were over a metre high, destroyed houses, started a significant port fire, and tore apart roadways. As daylight arrived, the scale of the destruction in Ishikawa emerged with buildings still smouldering, houses flattened and fishing boats sunk or washed ashore.

According to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, "Very extensive damage has been confirmed, including numerous casualties, building collapses, and fires," during a meeting on disaster response.

"We have to race against time to search for and rescue victims of the disaster." Police said six people had been killed although the toll was almost certain to climb. The Kyodo news agency reported that 13 people had died, including seven in the badly hit port of Wajima.

Aerial news footage from the port's huge fire revealed destruction, including the collapse of a seven-story structure.  The local energy company said that around 45,000 households in the area had power outages overnight due to temperatures that dropped below freezing. Water did not run in several cities.

Defense Minister Minoru Kihara said 1,000 military personnel were preparing to go to the region, while 8,500 others were on standby. Around 20 military aircraft were dispatched to survey the damage. 

Monday's quake shook apartments in the capital Tokyo some 300 kilometres away, where a public New Year greeting event that was to be attended by Emperor Naruhito and his family members was cancelled.

According to Japan's road operator, many major highways were shut down around the epicentre, and bullet train services from Tokyo were also halted.

The earthquake's magnitude, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), was 7.5. With a measurement of 7.6, the meteorological office in Japan reported that it was one of around 150 earthquakes that will jolt the area until Tuesday morning.

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