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Japan earthquake toll rises as heavy rain complicates rescue

More than 60 people have so far been reported dead in the wake of the 7.6-magnitude earthquake which struck Japan on New Year's Day. Authorities warned heavy rain could trigger landslides as rescue operations continue.



Japanese rescuers searched for survivors of the New Year's Day earthquake on Wednesday ahead of predicted freezing temperatures and heavy rains that threatened to bring about landslides.


The devastating quake rattled Ishikawa prefecture on the west coast of the main island of Honshu, killing at least 62 individuals and destroying hundreds of buildings and sparking fires.

The destruction isolated the remote area, and rescuers have since struggled to find survivors.


What is the scale of the destruction?


The regional government said it expected the death toll to climb, with poor weather conditions and damaged roads complicating rescue efforts.


Some 300 people have been injured, 20 of them seriously, with over 31,800 in shelters, the government said. At least 200 buildings had collapsed.


"It's been over 40 hours since the initial quake. This is a battle against time, and I believe now is a crucial moment in that battle," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Wednesday after an emergency task force meeting.


Authorities doubled the number of military personnel dispatched to join the rescue mission.

Some 400 other tremors have hit the region since Monday's massive 7.6-magnitude quake, the Japanese Meteorological Agency said.


Rainfall, power cuts, water shortages reported


Japan's national weather agency advised people to be on alert for landslides, with rainfall expected to continue until Thursday.


Suzu area municipal mayor Masuhiro Izumiya said there were "almost no houses standing" in one of the area's towns on the hard-hit Noto peninsula. He described the situation as "completely catastrophic."


Some 32,800 households remained without power in Ishikawa prefecture, according to local authorities. Many cities were still without running water, with food also in short supply. 


Food and emergency supplies arriving in the region struggled to make their way to those in need, due to damaged and blocked roads.


Source: Dw



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