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Prime Minister Declares Urgent ‘Battle Against Time’ in Japan Earthquake Rescue Effort

Japan Earthquake

Japan Earthquake is grappling with a dire situation following a series of devastating earthquakes that have claimed at least eight lives, injured numerous individuals, and triggered destructive fires. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has declared a “battle against time” in the urgent rescue efforts to save those trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings. Japan, nestled within the seismic hotbed of the Pacific Ring of Fire, experienced another seismic event with a recent earthquake.

The earthquake was one of the top disasters Japan has ever witnessed.

Japan Earthquake
Picture Credit: CNN Japan Earthquake

Historically accustomed to tectonic activity, this nation faced the latest tremor as a stark reminder of its geological vulnerability. The impact of the earthquake reverberates in the physical tremors and the collective memory of past seismic tragedies. Japan’s proactive approach to earthquake preparedness, stringent building codes, and advanced early warning systems are evident in its commitment to minimising casualties and damage. This event serves as a testament to the ongoing challenges of coexisting with nature’s forces, emphasising the resilience and adaptability ingrained in Japan’s societal fabric.

The affected region, particularly the Noto peninsula, has faced significant challenges in conducting rescue operations. Damaged and blocked roads impede access, while one of the area’s airports had to shut down due to runway cracks. Despite deploying a thousand army personnel to the worst-hit areas, the scale of destruction and logistical obstacles are slowing down the rescue missions.

In Wajima city, the aftermath is marked by ongoing fires, adding to the crisis. The fire department reports that over 100 homes and other structures have been destroyed. The situation is critical, demanding swift and coordinated efforts to rescue those in peril and aid the affected communities.

Japan Earthquake

In the wake of a series of powerful earthquakes striking Japan, the Noto peninsula is at the epicentre of a humanitarian crisis. The seismic activity has claimed lives, injured scores of individuals, and left communities in disarray. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has declared an urgent “battle against time” to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble of collapsed buildings, emphasising the need for swift and coordinated efforts.

The Noto peninsula, extending into the Sea of Japan, has borne the brunt of the devastation. The loss of life and injuries are concentrated in this region, with reports emerging of a woman in her fifties confirmed dead in Nanao city. Over 30 people from the same town were taken to hospitals, and there are grim accounts of residents found unconscious, trapped under rubble, or missing.

The earthquake’s epicentre on the peninsula has exacerbated the challenges faced by rescue operations. Damaged and blocked roads have hindered access, and the closure of an airport due to runway cracks has further complicated logistics. Despite the deployment of a significant number of army personnel to the worst-hit areas, progress in rescue missions is impeded by the scale of destruction and the rugged terrain.

Wajima City, one of the severely affected areas, continues to grapple with ongoing fires. The fire department reports that more than 100 homes and other structures have been destroyed, adding to the situation’s urgency. The fires, along with the collapsed buildings, pose a dual threat to the safety of residents and complicate rescue efforts.

The aftershocks that could continue to rattle the affected areas over the next few days add another layer of uncertainty and danger. The meteorological agency has issued warnings, urging coastal residents not to return home despite lifting tsunami alerts. The initial fear of torrents of water reaching as high as five meters prompted evacuations to sports halls, schools, and other public buildings.

Transportation systems have been severely impacted, with bullet trains and flights suspended. Major highways remain closed, and water supplies have been disrupted due to burst pipes in certain areas. The region’s communication infrastructure took a hit, with mobile phone networks damaged, although efforts are underway to restore services gradually.

Internationally, support and solidarity have been expressed for Japan. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak conveyed the UK’s readiness to assist, emphasising that British nationals in the affected areas should heed the advice of Japanese authorities. The U.S. President, Joe Biden, affirmed that his administration is in contact with Japanese officials and stands ready to provide any necessary assistance for the Japanese people.

As Japan grapples with the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes, the focus remains on rescuing those in distress, providing medical care to the injured, and ensuring the safety and well-being of affected communities. The collaborative efforts of domestic and international agencies are crucial in mitigating the impact of this disaster and aiding Japan in its recovery journey.

Japan’s geographical location makes it highly susceptible to earthquakes, earning it the title of the most quake-prone nation in the world. The country sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a seismically active zone where several tectonic plates meet, leading to frequent seismic activity.

In the recent earthquake events on the Noto peninsula, the intensity and impact were significant enough to prompt a tsunami warning. However, it’s noteworthy that warnings of such magnitude have not been issued since the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. During that catastrophic event, a massive quake and subsequent tsunami struck the northeastern part of Japan, claiming the lives of around 18,000 people. This disaster left towns in ruins and led to nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, marking one of the worst nuclear accidents in history.

Following the Fukushima disaster, Japan reevaluated its nuclear energy policies. Almost all of the country’s nuclear power plants were shut down or mothballed as a precautionary measure. The impact of the 2011 incident led to heightened awareness and stringent safety measures within the nuclear industry.

In the recent seismic activity, nuclear regulators have reported no alarming developments regarding radiation levels despite the issuance of a tsunami warning. Monitoring posts in the region detected no rises in radiation, and no abnormalities were reported at the more than 20 reactors along the nearby coastline. This suggests that the safety protocols and measures implemented post-Fukushima effectively prevent nuclear-related incidents during seismic events.

The cautious approach and robust safety measures underscore Japan’s commitment to learning from past disasters and prioritising the safety of its citizens. The nation’s experience with natural disasters has shaped its disaster preparedness strategies and influenced global discussions on nuclear safety and energy policies.

Japan Earthquake History

Japan has a long and complex history of earthquakes due to its location along the Pacific Ring of Fire, where several tectonic plates meet. Here is a brief overview of significant earthquakes in Japan’s history:

1855 Ansei Edo Earthquake  This earthquake, with an estimated magnitude of 7.0-8.4, struck the Edo (now Tokyo) region. It caused widespread damage, including fires that burned down much of Edo and neighbouring areas.

1923 Great Kanto Earthquake: This devastating earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.9, struck the Kanto region, including Tokyo and Yokohama. The quake and the subsequent fires resulted in the death of over 140,000 people, making it one of the deadliest earthquakes in recorded history.

1946 Nankai Earthquake: With a magnitude of 8.1, this earthquake struck the Nankai region, causing significant damage and a tsunami that affected coastal areas.

1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake This earthquake, measuring 6.9 in magnitude, struck the Hanshin region, including the city of Kobe. The quake resulted in the deaths of over 6,000 people and caused extensive damage to infrastructure.

2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami: This mega-thrust earthquake, with a magnitude of 9.0, struck off the northeastern coast of Japan. It triggered a massive tsunami that devastated coastal areas, leading to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. The overall impact resulted in the loss of around 18,000 lives and caused widespread destruction.

These events and numerous smaller earthquakes have shaped Japan’s approach to earthquake preparedness, infrastructure resilience, and nuclear safety. The country has implemented strict building codes, early warning systems, and disaster response strategies to mitigate the impact of earthquakes. Additionally, the Fukushima Daiichi disaster prompted a reassessment of Japan’s reliance on nuclear power, leading to the shutdown of most nuclear reactors and increased emphasis on renewable energy sources.

Japan was jolted by a powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake at around 16:10 local time on Monday, leaving at least four people confirmed dead and dozens injured. The seismic event triggered tsunami warnings, which were later downgraded, but not before creating a wave of panic and concern among the affected communities. The quake, followed by approximately 60 aftershocks, resulted in collapsed buildings, trapping an unknown number of individuals beneath the rubble in various towns.

The impact of the earthquake was not confined to physical damage alone; it reverberated through the experiences of those who lived through it. Tourists and locals alike found themselves shaken, both literally and figuratively. A snowboarder in Japan’s Hakuba Alps, Baldwin Chia, recounted the unsettling experience of his entire hotel room shaking. While he expressed concerns about potential avalanches, there were no immediate reports of such incidents.

For some, the earthquake was an unexpected and harrowing encounter with the unpredictable forces of nature. Andy Clark, a Briton in the affected coastal city of Toyama, described a “scary afternoon and evening.” Faced with the seismic upheaval, he clung to a sea wall for stability before seeking refuge on a school roof. The ongoing aftershocks further added to the challenge, making it difficult for residents and visitors alike to find respite and sleep.

Even those at a considerable distance from the epicenter, like Jeffrey Hall in Yokohama on the other side of Japan’s main island, felt the tremors for about two minutes. Hall, a lecturer at Kanda University, emphasized the severity of the quake, describing it as “very, very serious.” The widespread impact and the emotional toll on individuals across different regions underscore the pervasive nature of Japan’s vulnerability to seismic activities, prompting a renewed focus on earthquake preparedness and resilience in the face of such natural disasters.

Source Link https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/jan/02/japan-earthquakes-tsunami-alert-dropped-but-residents-told-not-to-return-to-homes

News Shot 24
Author: News Shot 24

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