At least 30 people have been killed and scores more are feared trapped under debris after a devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit Japan on New Year’s Day. The massive quake was followed by over 150 back-to-back tremors over the next 24 hours that added to the trail of destruction.
Videos recorded by locals showed collapsed houses, cracked roads and frightened residents rushing to take cover as the quake jolted buildings and trains. One such video was shared by a resident driving around his neighbourhood after the quake hit Ishikawa, the worst affected region. The video shows sidewalks ripped open from beneath and cars parked outside houses buried inside the cracks. As the the car moves ahead, collapsed houses are seen and worried residents walk out away from the rubble.
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said “very extensive damage” has been confirmed and “numerous casualties” have been reported.
On Monday waves at least 1.2 metres high hit Wajima, and a series of smaller tsunamis were reported elsewhere.
While Japan lifted all tsunami warnings on Tuesday, rescuers are now working round the clock to find survivors in the collapsed rubble of buildings. “We have to race against time to search for and rescue victims of the disaster,” the prime minister said.
A total of 62,000 people had been ordered to evacuate from their homes.
Japan is haunted by the memory of a massive 9.0-magnitude in March 2011, which triggered a tsunami that left over 18,500 people dead or missing.
The 2011 tsunami also sent three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing Japan’s worst post-war disaster and the most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl.