The new year has not started well in Japan. A seismic tremor measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale was recorded on the Noto peninsula on January 1. This is the country’s largest earthquake since 2011’s devastating tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Authorities officially reported that, as of yesterday, the death toll was 55, but the figure is likely to rise, as many people are still trapped under the rubble. Rescue efforts are hampered by devastated infrastructure and cold air temperatures.
Japan earthquake – 200 tremors
The ground shook on New Year’s afternoon in Ishikawa Prefecture, located in the central part of the northern coast of Japan’s largest island of Honshu. According to preliminary assessments, the epicenter of the disaster was near the city of Suzu, where up to 90 percent of the city collapsed. homes. Severe damage and fires also affected the city of Wajima, 32 kilometers away. Losses are also being reported by authorities in four neighboring prefectures where tremors were felt.
From the first tremor until midnight on January 3, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has already recorded more than 200 more, with their strength decreasing and estimated at around. 2-3 on the Richter scale. However, it is not ruled out that the earthquake in Japan will have further episodes during the current week. According to a JMA representative, seismic activity at the junction of the Eurasian and North American plates within the Sea of Japan has been markedly elevated for three years now.
Tsunami danger in Japan
Japanese authorities, in response to the earthquake, immediately ordered the evacuation of more than 97,000. residents of nine prefectures on the western shore of Honshu Island. This is because it was feared that seismic activity would trigger another tsunami. On Tuesday afternoon, some of them were able to return home.
Tsunami waves 1.2 meters high were observed Monday afternoon in the city of Wajima, but caused no direct damage. Smaller waves also hit the cities of Toyama, Kashiwazaki, Kanazawa and Sakata, as well as the port of Setana on the island of Hokkaido. Due to their mild nature, tsunami warnings were lifted over the next 24 hours. Currently, the JMA is forecasting the possibility of slight sea level changes (up to 1 m) on the west coast of Honshu. The population living on the waterfront is still advised to stay away from their homes due to the potential risk of further strong tremors and a more severe tsunami.
Thousands suffering and colossal damage
The earthquake in Japan, even without the collateral damage of devastating waves, is considered a social and economic disaster. Japan’s public media organization NHK reports that more than 50 buildings were completely destroyed in Suzu and 30 in Wajima, with another 200 consumed by fires. There are probably still people alive under the rubble. Hospitals in both cities are full of wounded, and the evacuated population still remains in gymnasiums and other aid centers. Many of the affected are staying in difficult conditions due to the cutting off of drinking water and lack of warm clothing. The delivery of aid is hampered by severe damage to roads, some of which have been covered by avalanches.
Rail networks were also severely affected, with up to 1,400 passengers stuck on 4 trains for 11 hours. A further 500 were trapped at Noto airport, which will be closed until at least January 4 due to the damage to the terminal. Across Ishikawa Prefecture, where nighttime temperatures drop below 0°C, some 32,000 people were without power on New Year’s Day. households. The National Geospatial Information Office (GSI) reported that the earthquake in Japan caused the earth’s crust to shift by up to 3 meters in western Wajima and 1 meter in northern Suzu. These changes have been noted on satellite images and are the likely cause of the destruction of many buildings.
On January 2, the operator of a nuclear power plant in Ishikawa Prefecture reported that New Year’s Day seismic tremors damaged transformer tubes that supply electricity to two reactors. Leakage of more than 7,000 has been reported. liters of oil used for insulation and cooling. According to plant officials, however, the situation poses no danger, and the reactors are currently being powered by emergency generators.