The devastating earthquake that shook central Japan last Monday has left at least 168 dead and more than 300 missing, while the search for victims and assistance to those affected continues, hampered by snow and damage to the roads. It is estimated that more than 2,000 people remain isolated in 24 towns in Ishikawa prefecture, the hardest hit by the 7.6 magnitude earthquake – the most devastating that has been recorded in Japan in the last decade.
The latest official count of victims is 168 dead and 323 missing, in addition to more than 500 injured of varying severity, according to Agencia EFE. Most of the deaths occurred in the towns of Wajima and Suzu, where search and rescue tasks are also concentrated.
Land access to the north of the Noto peninsula, the epicenter of the earthquake, has been practically blocked by the numerous road closures damaged by the earthquake or by rock falls, land avalanches or falling poles, buildings and other infrastructure. Furthermore, in recent days the aftershocks of the earthquake have continued, with the epicenter also in the Noto area, including some with a magnitude greater than 5, which have caused new earth movements and more damage to buildings or transport routes.
Added to this is the cold air front that is leaving temperatures below zero and snowfall of up to 13 centimeters in the area, which makes vehicle traffic even more difficult and increases the risk of new collapses or landslides in buildings damaged by the earthquake. or causing hypothermia to people in homes or shelters without electricity or running water in some cases.
The Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, stated the day before that “everything possible” will be done to assist people in the “large areas that remain isolated,” and said that measures such as access on foot or by helicopter are being considered. part of the Army. Kishida also announced that the earthquake in central Japan will be designated as an “extraordinary disaster,” which will allow special administrative treatment for those affected when requesting aid or procedures of all kinds.
Some 28,000 people remain sheltered in temporary evacuation centers, while there are nearly 15,000 homes without running water and more than 14,000 without electricity. The regional authorities have had to set up a new center in a public gym in the city of Kanazawa, where more than 200 tents have been installed to accommodate the elderly, pregnant women and other people with special needs starting this Tuesday.
The central Executive has also asked traditional hotels and hostels in the area to offer temporary accommodation to the refugees, and it is expected that in the coming days the victims who are in more precarious situations will be transferred there.
A week ago, the authorities activated a tsunami alert, warning of waves of up to five meters along practically the entire western coast after the strong earthquake that occurred on the Noto peninsula, in Ishikawa prefecture, at 4:10 p.m. local time. , at shallow depth and with an intensity of 7 in the closed Japanese climbing of 7, which focuses on the destructive capacity of the tremors, rather than the intensity.