Japan faces 'battle against time' to rescue New Year's Day quake survivors

Japan faces
# 02 January 2024 04:58 (UTC +04:00)

At least eight people have died in an earthquake that struck Japan on New Year's Day as authorities on Tuesday struggled to assess the full extent of a disaster that wrecked buildings and roads and left thousands without power in freezing temperatures, APA reports citing Reuters.

The quake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.6 struck in the middle of the afternoon on Monday, prompting residents in some coastal areas to flee to higher ground as tsunami waves about 1 metre (3.3 ft) high hit Japan's western seaboard.

A thousand army personnel have been dispatched to the worst-hit area in the country's relatively remote Noto peninsula, but rescue operations have been hindered by badly damaged and blocked roads and one of the area's airports has been forced to close due to runway cracks.

Many rail services and flights into the area have also been suspended.

"The search and rescue of those impacted by the quake is a battle against time," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said during an emergency disaster meeting on Tuesday in remarks aired on television.

The Japanese government said as of Monday night it had ordered more than 97,000 people in nine prefectures on the western coast of main island Honshu to evacuate. They were spending the night in sports halls and school gymnasiums, commonly used as evacuation centres in emergencies.

Almost 33,000 households remained without power in Ishikawa prefecture early on Tuesday morning, according to Hokuriku Electric Power's (9505.T) website. Most areas in the northern Noto peninsula also have no water supply, NHK reported.

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