Hopes Dim for Survivors of Devastating Japan Quake

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WAJIMA, Japan: In the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that struck Japan, thousands of rescuers are tirelessly working to clear rubble and reopen blocked roads. However, as the days pass, hopes are fading for dozens of people who are still missing. The earthquake, which occurred on New Year’s Day, had a magnitude of 7.5 and has claimed at least 81 lives.

The impact of the earthquake has left hundreds of people in more than a dozen communities cut off in Ishikawa prefecture, located in central Japan. The region has been left in a state of devastation, with limited access to essential resources. Regional governor Hiroshi Hase expressed concerns during a disaster management meeting, stating that the survival rate of those in need of rescue is rapidly decreasing as time goes on.

The geographical constraints of the affected area being a peninsula, coupled with the intermittent occurrence of major quakes, have made access to the region extremely difficult. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida described the situation as the worst catastrophe in the current Reiwa era, which began in 2019 when the current emperor ascended the throne. Despite the challenges, the government is committed to providing support to the victims and is working tirelessly to alleviate the suffering caused by the disaster.

The initial powerful tremor was followed by hundreds of aftershocks, resulting in injuries to at least 330 individuals, according to local authorities. The uncertainty surrounding the whereabouts of 79 people has caused further distress. As emergency shelters accommodate hundreds of displaced individuals, scenes of destruction continue to unfold in coastal towns such as Anamizu and Wajima. The market area in Wajima has been particularly ravaged by fire, leaving behind burnt-out cars and further devastation.

In response to the disaster, thousands of soldiers, firefighters, and police officers from across Japan have come together to assist in the rescue efforts. Equipped with sniffer dogs, they tirelessly comb through the rubble of collapsed wooden houses and toppled commercial buildings in search of signs of life. Yasuhiro Morita, a member of a rescue unit in Wajima, shared his experience with his dog Elza, who is trained to bark when it detects a body. However, on this occasion, Elza wandered off towards bystanders, indicating that there were no bodies to be found. These moments of hopelessness add to the challenges faced by the rescuers.

The impact of the earthquake extends beyond the immediate destruction. Approximately 30,000 households in Ishikawa, along the Sea of Japan coast, are without electricity, while 95,000 homes in Ishikawa and two neighboring regions are without water. The Noto Peninsula region, one of the hardest-hit areas, is facing significant access issues. In the town of Ooya in the Suzu area, 300 people are anxiously awaiting aid at a school. The lack of resources has left many struggling to provide for themselves and their families. A woman in her 30s, with three children in Suzu, expressed her desperation, stating that even if she gives her food to her children, it is not enough, as she has eaten almost nothing for the past two days.

As the rescue and relief efforts continue, the resilience and determination of the Japanese people shine through. The international community stands in solidarity with Japan during this challenging time. While the immediate focus remains on rescue and recovery, it is crucial to provide ongoing support to those affected by this devastating earthquake. Together, we can help rebuild lives and communities, ensuring a brighter future for all.

Source: The Manila Times

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