TOKYO, JAPAN – A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 struck western Japan on New Year’s Day, resulting in at least six deaths and dozens of injuries. The earthquake, which hit the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture, caused significant damage to roads and buildings and left 45,000 homes without power. While tsunami warnings were initially issued for eastern Russia, they were later downgraded to advisories and eventually canceled.
Following the initial earthquake, Japan experienced over 140 aftershocks, prompting the evacuation of more than 97,000 people from their homes. The Japanese Meteorological Agency warned of the possibility of strong tremors continuing for several days, underscoring the ongoing risks faced by residents.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized the urgency of the situation, highlighting the ongoing battle against time to rescue individuals trapped under collapsed buildings. The National Police Agency reported six deaths in Ishikawa and more than 30 injuries in four other prefectures.
In light of the devastation, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako canceled their New Year’s celebration, while President Joe Biden expressed solidarity with the people of Japan. The earthquake, which marked the first major tsunami warning in Japan since 2011, serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing seismic threats faced by the country.
Japan’s unique position in the Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates converge, necessitates a robust and sophisticated tsunami warning system. As the nation continues to grapple with the aftermath of this natural disaster, the focus remains on ensuring the safety and well-being of affected individuals while working to assess and address the widespread damage caused by the earthquake.