Japanese rescuers searched for survivors of a New Year’s Day earthquake that killed at least 48 people and left massive damage on Tuesday, fighting against the clock and strong aftershocks.
The 7.5 magnitude quake that rattled Ishikawa prefecture on the main island of Honshu triggered tsunami waves more than a metre high, toppled houses, caused a major fire and tore apart roads.
A number of structures were destroyed in the Noto Peninsula, including crushed residences, sunk or washed ashore fishing boats, and landslide-damaged highways.
“I’m amazed the house is this broken and everyone in my family managed to come out of it unscathed,” said Akiko, standing outside her parent’s tilting home in the badly hit city of Wajima.
The way 2024 started “will be etched into my memory forever,” she told AFP after what she called the “long and violent” earthquake on Monday.
“So far, a large number of casualties, collapsed buildings, fires and other very large-scale damages have been confirmed,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a news conference Tuesday. “When it comes to saving lives and rescuing victims, we’re in a battle against time.”
The earthquake prompted the most severe category of tsunami warnings since 2011 that killed at least 18,000 people after waves as high as 130 feet swept into coastal cities, sweeping away cars and homes and demolishing multistory structures.