Kanazawa, Japan – A powerful 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck western Japan on New Year’s Day, causing significant damage and triggering a major tsunami warning in Ishikawa Prefecture. The earthquake, which occurred along the Noto Peninsula, led to the deaths of at least six people and left dozens injured as rescue efforts continued to locate survivors.
The earthquake, with its epicenter about 26 miles northeast of Anamizu, also resulted in the evacuation of more than 97,000 people from their homes as a precautionary measure. The Meteorological Agency warned of continued strong tremors and recorded more than 140 aftershocks in the days following the initial quake.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized the urgency of the search and rescue efforts, calling it a “battle against time” as emergency personnel worked to assess the extent of the damage caused by the earthquake. Kishida’s immediate response included the establishment of the Prime Minister’s Office of Response and Disaster Counter Measure HQ.
The quake, which marked the first major tsunami warning in Japan since 2011, also prompted the cancellation of New Year’s celebrations for the country’s Emperor and Empress, as well as the postponement of the Prime Minister’s scheduled visit to Isle Shrine.
Not only did the tremors impact Japan, but minor tsunami waves were also felt off the east coast of South Korea. Authorities in Japan suspended bullet train service, while Japan Airlines and Nippon Airways canceled flights in the affected region. Despite power outages in western Japan hospitals, no confirmed numbers of possible injuries were reported.
As Japan grappled with the aftermath of the earthquake, U.S. President Joe Biden expressed his support for the country, stating that the United States stands ready to provide any necessary assistance. Strong aftershocks continued to rattle central Japan, and Japan’s nuclear authority reassured the public that there was no risk of radioactivity leaking from nuclear power plants in the affected areas.
Japan, situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire, is no stranger to the constant threat of earthquakes due to the convergence of tectonic plates. Its sophisticated tsunami warning system reflects the country’s efforts to mitigate the impact of such natural disasters.