Mitsuru Kida, 74, an earthquake survivor who lives in the hard-hit city of Wajima, fears returning to life as usual given the damaged infrastructure.
“The road conditions are terrible. This is the first time the roads have been damaged to this extent.”
“I have the impression that most people have not yet regained the energy to stand up again at the present time.”
Smaller earthquakes continue to hit the peninsula. Firefighters were seen searching for survivors under the rubble of a partially collapsed building as they rushed to a safe place as an earthquake warning sounded before noon on Wednesday, according to footage broadcast by public broadcaster NHK.
About 200 earthquakes have been detected since the earthquake first occurred, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency, which warned of the possibility of more strong tremors in the coming days.
He added: “The government has deployed emergency rescue teams from the Self-Defense Forces, police and fire departments in the area and are doing their best to save lives and rescue victims and survivors, but we have received reports that there are still many people waiting to be rescued.” “They were rescued under collapsed buildings,” the Prime Minister said.
Kishida said about 3,000 rescuers were having difficulty reaching the northern tip of the peninsula, where helicopter surveys revealed numerous fires and widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure.
Japan is located on the “Ring of Fire” arc, which includes volcanoes and ocean trenches that partially surrounds the Pacific Basin. It accounts for about 20 percent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater, and each year there are up to 2,000 earthquakes that can be felt.
Many railway services and flights to the earthquake area were suspended. More than 500 people were stranded at Noto Airport, which was closed due to cracks in its runway and access road and damage to the airport building.
Many of the deaths occurred in Suzu and Wajima, another city on the remote northern tip of the Noto Peninsula. Dozens were injured.
“I've never had an earthquake this strong before,” said Wajima resident Shoichi Kobayashi, 71, who was at home eating a New Year's meal with his wife and son when the quake struck, sending furniture flying across the dining room.
Fujiko Ueno, 73, a resident of Nanao City in Ishikawa, said that nearly 20 people were at her house to celebrate the New Year when the earthquake struck and the walls cracked, collapsing onto a parked car. Miraculously, no one was hurt.
“It all happened in the blink of an eye,” she said, standing next to the wrecked car on a road filled with debris and mud that seeped from cracks in the roof.
The Pope and a number of world leaders sent messages of condolence, and President Joe Biden said in a statement that the United States is ready to provide any necessary assistance to Japan.
The Japanese government ordered about 100,000 people to evacuate their homes on Monday evening, sending them to gymnasiums and school gymnasiums, which are usually used as emergency evacuation centers.
Nearly half of the evacuees had returned to their homes on Tuesday after authorities lifted tsunami warnings.
But about 33,000 households remained without power in Ishikawa Prefecture after a night in which temperatures dropped below freezing. More than 100,000 homes do not have a water supply.
The earthquake also comes at a sensitive time for Japan's nuclear industry, which has faced fierce opposition since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that caused nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima on the east coast. Entire cities were destroyed and nearly 20,000 people were killed.
Last week, Japan lifted an operational ban on the world's largest nuclear plant, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, which had been offline since the 2011 tsunami.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said no violations were found at nuclear plants along the Sea of Japan, including five active reactors at Kansai Electric Power Company's Ohi and Takahama plants in Fukui Prefecture.
Hokuriku Electric Company's Shika station, which is closest to the epicenter, has been down since 2011. The company said there were a power outage and an oil leak after Monday's tremor but no radiation leak.
The company had previously said that it hopes to restart the reactor in 2026.
Toshiba said its local company, Kaga Toshiba Electronics, halted semiconductor production at its factory in Ishikawa to measure the impact of the earthquake on its facilities.
Chip equipment maker Kokusai Electric said it had found damage at its factory in Toyama and was conducting additional investigations before the scheduled resumption of operations on Thursday.
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