Death toll now at 30 after Japan earthquake


The death toll after a massive earthquake in Japan reached 30 on Tuesday, while another 14 people were seriously injured.

The 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck the country on New Year’s Day and has already caused widespread devastation.

Local authorities in the coastal area of ​​Ishikawa say half of the deaths were recorded in the city of Wajima after a fire spread through several houses.

Footage from local news agencies showed the damage caused by the fire. This includes a seven-storey building that collapsed.

The fire and much of the other damage in the city followed powerful aftershocks that again caused several tsunamis with waves of up to 1.2 m. The tsunamis have already flattened buildings and destroyed roads.

Rescue workers are now scrambling to dig more people out from under the rubble.

“There is extensive damage, including numerous deaths, buildings that collapsed and a fire that raged in Wajima,” said the country’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida.

“We are engaged in a battle against time to search for and save more victims of the disaster.”

He warns that the number of deaths is expected to rise over the next few days and warns that residents must be aware of the aftershocks that may follow. Several tremors were felt across the area early Tuesday, including one that measured 5.6.

Almost 33,000 households are without power and many cities have no running water. This while the temperature in the region reached freezing point overnight.

“It’s a horrible way to start the year,” a 73-year-old resident told AFP. He and hundreds of other people queued for water in the town of Shika on Tuesday.

No further tsunamis

The giant waves that hit the Ishikawa coastal area on Monday are probably now behind us and the government has lifted all warnings for further tsunamis.

Footage of the tsunamis showed cars, houses and bridges in Ishikawa engulfed in water, as terrified people gathered in shops and train stations.

Houses collapsed and large cracks appeared in roads, while others were destroyed by landslides.

At least 25 houses in the area collapsed, including another 14 houses where people may still be trapped.

According to the fire and disaster management agency, a total of 62,000 people have been ordered to leave their homes and around a thousand people are temporarily living on an army base.

Defense Minister Minoru Kihara said 1,000 army members were ready to go to the region, while another 8,500 were on standby. About 20 military aircraft were sent to investigate the damage.

Several major highways have since been closed around the epicenter of the earthquake and train services from Tokyo have been suspended.

Nearly 500 people were stranded at Noto’s damaged airport on Monday and around 1,000 people were still trapped in express trains almost 24 hours after train services were suspended.

No damage at nuclear power stations

Japan experiences hundreds of earthquakes every year and the majority cause no damage.

In 2011, Japan experienced a massive 9.0 undersea earthquake that caused a tsunami. Around 18,500 people are dead or missing after the giant wave hit the country.

It also flooded the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters.

Japan’s nuclear power authority said on Tuesday that no abnormalities had been reported at the Shika nuclear power plant in Ishikawa or at other plants after Monday’s earthquake.