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Aftermath series of earthquakes in Japan | Credits: Reuters
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Western Japan struggles amidst devastating earthquakes

A series of severe earthquakes that struck western Japan have killed at least 55 people and destroyed thousands of structures, vehicles, and watercraft. Officials cautioned on Tuesday that more quakes could occur.

A day after a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck the area, aftershocks continued to batter Ishikawa prefecture and surrounding territories. The extent of the damage could not be determined immediately.

According to Japanese media accounts, tens of thousands of homes were damaged.

Homes shattered, lives shaken!

Yoshimasa Hayashi, a government spokesperson, claimed that 17 people were critically injured and cited a somewhat lower death toll, adding that he was aware of the prefecture’s figure.

“It’s not just that it’s a mess. The wall has collapsed, and you can see through to the next room. I don’t think we can live here anymore,” Miki Kobayashi, an Ishikawa resident, said as she swept around her house.

Although the number of casualties continued to rise gradually, the fast public warnings transmitted on broadcasts and phones and the quick response from the general population and government looked to have mitigated some of the damage.

Mitigating further damage

Toshitaka Katada, a disaster expert at the University of Tokyo, said residents were prepared because the area had been affected by earthquakes in previous years. They had emergency supplies and evacuation procedures in place.

“There are probably no people on Earth who are as disaster-ready as the Japanese,” he told The Associated Press.

Nation familiar to Earthquakes

Japan is frequently struck by earthquakes because of its location in the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.

Katada emphasized that the situation is still dangerous and unpredictable. Other quakes had preceded the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. “This is far from over,” remarked Katada.

Scientists’ predictions have often been proven wrong, such as the 2016 quake in southeastern Kumamoto, an area previously thought to be mostly earthquake-free.

Toshitaka Katada, a disaster expert at the University of Tokyo | Credits: The Japan Times

“Believing too much in the power of science is extremely dangerous.” “We have to deal with nature,” Katada explained.

Aerial imagery from Japanese media showed massive destruction in the worst-affected areas, with landslides burying roads, boats pushed into the water, and a fire that had reduced an entire section of Wajima city to ashes.

Another tragic incident happened when the food delivery Coast Guard Plane enlisted in the aid effort met with disaster. It apparently collided with Japan Airlines as just it landed and instantly burst into flames at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Tuesday.

The Coast Guard said the plane was prepared to travel to Niigata airport on Japan’s west coast on New Year’s Day to bring help to residents affected by the massive earthquake that devastated the island country.

The skipper of the Coast Guard’s Bombardier-built Dash-8 maritime patrol plane fled and was injured.

Prime Minister Kishida’s Condolences

Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida | Credits: Reuters

“I express my respect and gratitude to the employees who performed their jobs with a strong sense of mission and responsibility, and I pray that their souls may rest in peace,” Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said as he consoled the deaths.

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