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Japan quake toll at 48 and rising

WORST OF QUAKE. Aerial photos provided by Jiji Press show the various damages in Wajima, Ishikawa prefecture in Japan on Jan. 2 following the major 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck the Noto region — a fallen seven-storey building, smoke rising from an area following a large fire, and damaged houses, including one totally collapsed (photo below). Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (photo below), wearing an emergency disaster uniform, then arrives at his office in Tokyo to lead recovery efforts. AFP
Manila Standard

Marcos, AFP offer aid; 35 Pinoys evacuated but none hurt

Japanese rescuers battled the clock and powerful aftershocks Tuesday to find survivors of a New Year’s Day earthquake that killed at least 48 people and caused widespread destruction.

The 7.5 magnitude quake that rattled Ishikawa prefecture on the main island of Honshu triggered tsunami waves more than a meter high, toppled houses, caused a major fire, and tore apart roads.

In Manila, President Marcos said the government is working closely with the Japanese government to secure Filipinos’ safety following the massive earthquake that rocked Japan on New Year’s Day.

Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said it is ready to help the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) if needed.

Aftermath of the 7.5 magnitude quake

Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko on Tuesday applauded President Marcos for extending a helping hand to Japan.

In a post on X, Koshikawa said the Philippines is a “friend indeed” after Marcos offered assistance to Japan.

Philippine Ambassador to Japan Mylene Garcia-Albano on Tuesday said 35 Filipinos in Japan were evacuated from their homes due to a possible tsunami after the New Year’s Day 7.6-magnitude earthquake.

Albano said the Filipinos who evacuated were reported in Ishikawa Prefecture, which is the worst-affected area.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega earlier said there were no Filipino casualties in the earthquake, quoting the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers.

There are 298,740 Filipinos in Japan, including 1,300 in Ishikawa prefecture, the DFA said.

Most of the Filipinos in Ishikawa work in offices, factories, and the agriculture sector.

On the Noto Peninsula, the destruction included buildings damaged by fire, houses flattened, fishing boats sunk or washed ashore, and highways hit by landslides.

“I’m amazed the house is this broken and everyone in my family managed to come out of it unscathed,” said Akiko, standing outside her parent’s tilting home in the badly hit city of Wajima.

The way 2024 started “will be etched into my memory forever,” she said, after what she called the “long and violent” earthquake on Monday.

“It was such a powerful jolt,” Tsugumasa Mihara, 73, said as he queued with hundreds of others for water in the nearby shell shocked town of Shika.

Local authorities put the death toll at 48, but the number was expected to rise as rescuers comb through the rubble.

“Very extensive damage has been confirmed, including numerous casualties, building collapses and fires,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said after a disaster response meeting.

“We have to race against time to search for and rescue victims of the disaster.”

Aerial news footage showed the terrifying scale of a fire that ripped through the old market area of Wajima, where a seven-story commercial building also collapsed. Quake damage impaired rescue efforts to put out the blaze.

Almost 33,000 households were without power in the region, which saw temperatures touch freezing overnight, the local energy provider said. Many cities were without running water.

Diagram explaining the reverse fault. – AFP / AFP / SOPHIE RAMIS

The US Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 7.5. Japan’s meteorological agency measured it at 7.6, and said it was one of more than 150 to shake the region through Tuesday morning.

Several strong jolts were felt early Tuesday, including one measuring 5.6 that prompted national broadcaster NHK to switch to a special program.

“Please take deep breaths,” the presenter said, reminding viewers to check for fires in their kitchens.

Tsunami warning lifted

On Monday, waves at least 1.2 meters high hit Wajima and a series of smaller tsunamis were reported elsewhere.

Warnings of much larger waves proved unfounded and on Tuesday, Japan lifted all tsunami warnings.

Images on social media showed cars, houses and bridges in Ishikawa wobbling violently as terrified people cowered in shops and train stations. AFP, Charles Dantes, Vince Lopez, Rey E. Requejo

Japan PM Fumio Kishida

Houses collapsed and huge cracks appeared in roads while others were hit by landslides. Forecasters warned that rains could further loosen soil on hillsides.

A team of firefighters crawled under a collapsed commercial building in Wajima looking for survivors, television footage showed.

“Hang in there! Hang in there,” they shouted as they battled through piles of wooden beams with an electric saw.

The fire in Wajima engulfed as many as 200 structures, reports said, with people evacuated in the dark, some with blankets and others carrying babies.

NHK reported that 25 houses had collapsed in the city, including 14 that may have had people trapped inside.

A duty officer at the Wajima Fire Department said authorities were overwhelmed Tuesday by rescue calls and reports of damage.

Ishikawa Gov. Hiroshi Hase wrote on social media that roads had been cut in widespread areas by landslides or cracking, while in the port of Suzu “multiple” vessels had capsized.

A total of 62,000 people had been ordered to evacuate, according to the fire and disaster management agency.

About 1,000 were staying at a military base, the defense ministry said.

Bullet trains suspended

Monday’s quake shook apartments in the capital Tokyo about 300 kilometers away, where a public New Year’s Day greeting event by Emperor Naruhito was canceled.

Overnight about 1,400 people were stuck on suspended bullet trains, including Georgia’s ambassador Teimuraz Lezhava, who praised the “kindness of the station staff and the passengers around us” on social media.

Around 1,000 others were stuck in local express trains for almost 24 hours after they were halted on Monday, NHK said.

About 500 people were also stranded at Noto’s damaged airport, with access roads blocked and the runway riddled with cracks.

Japan experiences hundreds of earthquakes every year and the vast majority cause no damage.

The number of earthquakes in the Noto Peninsula region has been steadily increasing since 2018, a Japanese government report said last year.

The country is haunted by a massive 9.0 magnitude undersea quake off northeastern Japan in 2011 which triggered a tsunami that left around 18,500 people dead or missing.

It also swamped the Fukushima atomic plant, causing one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters.

Japan’s nuclear authority said there were no abnormalities reported at the Shika atomic power plant in Ishikawa or other plants after the latest quake.

China on Tuesday joined the United States and other countries in expressing condolences.

Filipinos in Japan

In a post on his X social media account, President Marcos vowed to ensure the welfare of Filipinos in Japan.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the magnitude 7.6 earthquake in Japan on New Year’s Day,” President Marcos said.

“We are in close collaboration with the Japanese government to secure the welfare of our kababayans, who thankfully remain unharmed,” he added.

President Marcos said the Philippines was ready to extend its hand in any way to help Japan.

“We have made the offer to assist in any way that we can. In the face of shared climate challenges within the Pacific Ring of Fire, we stand united with Japan and stay ready to provide support from the Philippines,” the President said.

“Recognizing the severity of the situation and the subsequent issuance of major tsunami warnings, the AFP extends its support and sympathy to the Japanese people,” AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. said in a statement.

“In times of crisis, international cooperation becomes paramount, and the AFP expresses its readiness to collaborate with the JSDF in any way deemed necessary,” he added.

“Last night, it was reported to us that 35 Filipinos have evacuated to the city hall because of the tsunami warnings,” Albano said in an interview with radio dzBB.

“The Filipino community has been contacted and [there are] no reports of any [Filipino] casualty at this time,” the DFA said.

The Philippine Consulate General in Nagoya posted advisories for the Filipino community and has been monitoring developments, the agency added.

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Arnel Ignacio said their officers are also monitoring the condition of the Filipinos. — AFP, Charles Dantes, Vince Lopez, Rey E. Requejo

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