TOKYO, Japan – A series of strong earthquakes struck Japan on the first day of 2024, resulting in the deaths of at least 30 people. The magnitude of the disaster was difficult to assess, as the island nation experienced as many as 155 earthquakes since Monday. One of the initial earthquakes measured at 7.6 magnitude and another at over 6, according to the Japan Meteorological Office.
The initial earthquake prompted tsunami warnings, with waves as high as 5 feet hitting the country. Nearly 33,000 households were left without power on Tuesday, and key transportation routes, including major highways, were non-operational, hindering rescue efforts. The earthquakes caused significant damage, with tumbled buildings, sunken boats at a port, and numerous burnt homes. The disasters also led to evacuations, with tens of thousands of people ordered to leave their homes and seek shelter at military bases, sports halls, and school gymnasiums.
Damage assessment and rescue operations were hindered by blocked and damaged roads, halted transportation services, and disrupted airport operations. The earthquakes also triggered a major fire in Wajima, which engulfed a row of houses.
Authorities in Japan and neighboring countries issued tsunami warnings and offered assistance. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida ordered search and rescue teams to reach the affected regions, and U.S. President Joe Biden expressed readiness to provide necessary help to Japan. The earthquakes serve as a reminder of Japan’s susceptibility to frequent seismic activity, with strict building regulations in place to ensure structural safety.
The disaster follows a history of devastating earthquakes in Japan, including the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that resulted in significant loss of life and a nuclear disaster. The latest earthquakes highlight the ongoing need for preparedness and resilience in the face of natural disasters. As recovery efforts continue, the impact of these earthquakes on communities and infrastructure remains a significant concern.