Japan was hit with a massive earthquake, measuring 7.6 in magnitude, which struck near the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture. The aftermath has been catastrophic, with at least 30 reported deaths and extensive damage to infrastructure and livelihood that has left Prime Minister Fumio Kishida issuing warnings of a grim situation which is likely to worsen.
The earthquake, occurring on Monday afternoon, prompted the country’s first major tsunami warning since the devastating events of March 2011, when an earthquake and tsunami in the northeast claimed the lives of approximately 18,500 people. After the reduced risk of additional tsunami waves, the initial tsunami warnings were lifted, yet advisories for waves up to 1 meter which is equal to 3 feet remain in effect.
Rescue efforts have been severely hindered by damaged roads, leaving authorities struggling to assess the full extent of the damage.
Reports from local authorities, later confirmed by the Japan Meteorological Office, indicated that the country experienced 155 earthquakes since the initial tremor on Monday. The town of Wajima, near the quake’s epicentre, bore the brunt of the disaster, with over 20 reported deaths. The town witnessed a tsunami of at least 1.2 meters (4 feet), contributing to the devastation, including a major fire and the collapse of a seven-storey building at the port.
Bullet train operations came to a halt, and areas grappling with the impact experienced disruptions in communication services and power supplies.
As residents were evacuated to safety, the scale of the disaster became painfully apparent. Nearly 100,000 people across nine prefectures sought refuge in sports halls and school gymnasiums, commonly used as evacuation centres in Japan during emergencies. Even on Tuesday morning, almost 33,000 households in Ishikawa prefecture remained without power, and most areas in the northern Noto Peninsula were left without water.
The international community has rallied in support of Japan during this dire time. Allies including the United States, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom expressed concern and offered assistance. While the situation unfolds, the Japanese people confront a daunting path to recovery, necessitating not only domestic resilience but also global cooperation to help rebuild shattered communities.