TOKYO: The death toll has risen to 82 in the central Japanese prefecture of Ishikawa with the number of people unaccounted for climbing to 80 on Thursday afternoon after a series of earthquakes of up to 7.6 magnitude struck the prefecture and its vicinity, amid ongoing rescue efforts nearly three days after the disaster, reported Xinhua.
With many running out of food and water supplies in affected areas, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced on Thursday that a transport ship carrying food and essential supplies was set to arrive at either Wajima port or Nanao port in Ishikawa prefecture by Friday evening.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida urged officials to mobilise all available resources to maximise life-saving efforts and lifeline supply within the first 72 hours of the disaster at a meeting of the emergency disaster response headquarters on Thursday.
The first 72 hours after earthquakes are especially critical for rescues because the prospects for survival greatly diminish after that, experts say.
“By this evening, marking the passage of 72 hours since the disaster, I urge everyone on the ground to work with full dedication to save as many lives as possible,“ he said.
With time running out to find survivors before the 72-hour window closes, many were still believed to be trapped under rubble in the hard-hit coastal city of Wajima, where 48 deaths have been confirmed so far, the national news agency Kyodo reported.
A Self-Defence Forces transport ship is set to unload heavy machinery on the coast of Wajima for disaster cleanup work, said the report.
In a series of aftershocks, nearly 95,000 households, as of Thursday, suffered water outages in several parts of Ishikawa due to water pipe damage, and over 34,100 people are sheltering in Ishikawa.
Rubble and severed roads added to challenges in search and rescue operations, three days after a series of strong quakes rocked Ishikawa and nearby areas on New Year’s Day, setting off tsunami warnings.
The land ministry said that areas of at least 100 hectares in Ishikawa were flooded by tsunami waves following the earthquakes, and the true extent of the flooding will likely be larger.
A series of strong earthquakes, with a major one of 7.6 magnitude, on Monday struck at a shallow depth in the Noto region of Ishikawa. The Japan Meteorological Agency has officially named it the 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake.
Centred around 30 km east-northeast of Wajima, the devastating quake registered a maximum intensity of 7, which would make it impossible for people to stand. –Bernama