PTC Web Desk: A catastrophic earthquake of 7.5 magnitude rocked Ishikawa prefecture on Honshu Island in Japan, claiming at least 48 lives and leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, as confirmed by a local official on condition of anonymity to AFP.
The seismic tremor triggered tsunami waves exceeding a metre in height, leading to widespread devastation. Buildings were toppled, roads were ripped apart, and a major fire broke out, adding to the chaos. Daylight unveiled the grim aftermath on the Noto Peninsula, revealing buildings ablaze, houses flattened, fishing boats either sunk or washed ashore, and highways scarred by landslides.
Witnesses shared harrowing experiences, one such account coming from Tsugumasa Mihara, 73, who recounted the powerful jolt that shook the town of Shika, where he, along with hundreds of others, queued for water in disbelief. The situation was described as "terrible" and "shell-shocking" as locals grappled with the scale of destruction.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in response to the catastrophe, acknowledged the extensive damage, casualties, building collapses, and fires. He emphasised the urgent need for search and rescue operations to save victims trapped amidst the disaster's wreckage.
Aerial footage revealed the devastating scope of a fire engulfing Wajima, where a seven-story commercial building had collapsed. Moreover, nearly 33,000 households suffered power outages, with temperatures dropping to freezing levels overnight, exacerbating the hardships faced by affected residents. In addition, numerous cities found themselves without access to running water.
The US Geological Survey reported the earthquake as measuring 7.5 in magnitude, while Japan's meteorological agency recorded it as 7.6, cataloging more than 150 tremors in the region until Tuesday morning.
The aftermath continued to unsettle residents, with subsequent tremors, including a 5.6-magnitude quake, prompting national broadcaster NHK to air special programs, urging viewers to remain calm and vigilant against potential fires in their homes.
Initially, tsunami warnings were issued, with waves of at least 1.2 meters hitting Wajima and reports of smaller tsunamis elsewhere. However, these warnings were subsequently lifted, alleviating some immediate concerns.
Reports from social media painted a dire picture, showcasing the violent trembling of cars, houses, and bridges in Ishikawa, leaving people terrified as they sought shelter in shops and train stations. Collapsed houses, ruptured roads, and landslides added to the chaos, while firefighters battled bravely under collapsed structures in Wajima, desperately searching for survivors.
The disaster prompted the evacuation of 62,000 individuals, with around 1,000 seeking refuge at a military base. The Defense Ministry mobilised a significant contingent of military personnel and aircraft to assess and respond to the extensive damage.