Earthquake in Japan kills 55 people

The earthquake was categorized as the deadliest in the country since 2016.

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Image Credit: The Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images

As freezing temperatures in the area made rescue efforts difficult, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake shook Japan’s Noto Peninsula on Jan. 1 killing 55 people and trapping many residents under demolished buildings. Suzu, a town near the epicenter of the earthquake is comprised of about 5,000 households, which may have all been demolished, Reuters reported.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the earthquake destroyed the road that gives access to “the secluded northern portion of the peninsula,” CNN reported.

“To secure the route there, we are to mobilize all the means of transport, not only on the ground but also by aerial and marine transport,” Kishida said. “We have been making an effort to transfer goods, supplies and personnel there since the last night.”

Masuhiro Izumiya, the mayor of Suzu, called the situation “catastrophic.” With reported landslides, fires, and damaged roads and buildings, the earthquake was categorized as the deadliest in the country since 2016, according to authorities.

“The government has deployed emergency rescue teams from the Self-Defence Forces, police and fire departments to the area and is doing its utmost to save lives and rescue victims and survivors, but we have received reports that there are still many people waiting to be rescued under collapsed buildings,” Kishida said.

Water, food and blankets were distributed to people forced to evacuate by the Japanese military, the BBC reported, while Yoshimasa Hayashi, the country’s chief cabinet secretary, warned that further earthquakes “of an intensity of up to 7” could occur during the week.

Japan is positioned on the western part of the “Ring of Fire,” which is the site of both seismic activity and volcanoes, and this tectonic belt “produces roughly 20 percent of the planet’s earthquakes that are a magnitude six or stronger, with as many as 2,000 earthquakes each year that can be felt,” EcoWatch reported.

“I’ve never experienced a quake that powerful,” Shoichi Kobayashi, 71, resident of Wajima, a city in the the Noto Peninsula hit by the earthquake, said.

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