The 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan on New Year’s Day has left at least 94 people dead, with rescue efforts ongoing to find survivors beyond the typical 72-hour window for increased survival rates.
Hindered aid: Days after the earthquake struck the west coast of Japan, dozens of villages remain inaccessible as rescuers face challenges due to severed roads. Damaged infrastructure has also hindered the delivery of material aid, leaving many evacuees without essential supplies such as food, water and electricity. Wajima city’s mayor, Shigeru Sakaguchi, stated at a regional disaster response meeting that the delivery of 3,000 meals and 5,000 bottles of water on Wednesday was insufficient for the 11,000 evacuees in the city.
Rescue operations: The incident caused extensive damage to buildings, vehicles and boats, with some fatalities occurring due to collapsed structures. In a video circulating online, a woman in her 80s is seen being rescued by firefighters from the debris of her devastated home in Wajima 72 hours after the earthquake. She was placed on a stretcher and wrapped in blankets.
In another video posted by local NGO Peace Winds Japan, a group of rescuers are seen navigating through piles of collapsed furniture to free a woman trapped beneath her residence. The footage also captures a dog participating in the rescue operation, searching for humans amid shattered houses.
What’s next: The government has promised continued supply provision and increased the number of Self-Defense Force members involved in rescue operations to about 7,000. At least 94 people were killed in the tragedy, while over 200 remain unaccounted for.
“We must continue putting all of our efforts into rescuing people, even beyond 72 hours after the disaster,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a news conference.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is preparing to render food, supplies and military logistical support to aid Japan. There are currently around 54,000 U.S. forces personnel serving in the country.