A powerful earthquake that hit Japan’s western coast on New Year’s Day killed at least 48 people, as police and local authorities on Jan. 2 reported bodies being pulled from the rubble of collapsed buildings.
The magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck near Ishikawa Prefecture’s Noto Peninsula in the middle of the afternoon on Jan. 1, destroying buildings, knocking out power to tens of thousands of homes and prompting residents in some coastal areas to flee to higher ground.
It also triggered waves of about 1 meter high along Japan’s long western seaboard as well as in neighboring South Korea.
A fire broke out in an old town with wooden houses in Wajima. There were reports of a building and multiple houses collapsing in the city, local firefighters said.
A total of more than 97,000 people in nine prefectures were instructed to evacuate, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.
The extent of the damage as well as the toll remained unclear a day after the disaster, with major roads to the worst-affected areas badly damaged, hindering rescue efforts.
Since the quake first hit, more than 129 tremors had been detected as of 6 a.m. on Jan. 2. The Japan Meteorological Agency has warned more strong shocks could hit in coming days. (Reuters, Kyodo)