Japan is facing a race against the clock to rescue survivors of the New Year’s Day earthquake.

Japan faced significant challenges in evaluating the complete scope of the devastation caused by an earthquake that hit its western coast. Tragically, the earthquake claimed the lives of at least eight individuals, causing extensive damage to buildings and roads. Additionally, numerous homes were left without power in freezing temperatures.

Japan faced significant challenges in determining the complete scope of devastation caused by an earthquake that hit its western coast. Tragically, the quake claimed the lives of at least eight individuals, causing destruction to buildings and roads and leaving numerous households without power in freezing conditions.

A powerful earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.6 occurred in the middle of the afternoon on Monday. This led residents in certain coastal areas to quickly move to higher ground due to the arrival of tsunami waves measuring about 1 metre (3.3 ft) along Japan’s western seaboard.

Numerous army personnel, firefighters, and police officers from various parts of the country have been deployed to the severely affected region in the remote Noto Peninsula.

Unfortunately, the rescue efforts have faced significant challenges due to severely damaged and obstructed roads. Additionally, the closure of one of the local airports has further complicated the situation, as the runway has developed cracks.

Several rail services and flights into the area have also been suspended.

During a crucial disaster meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that the search and rescue effort for earthquake victims is a race against time.

Kishida mentioned the challenges faced by rescuers in accessing the northern tip of the Noto peninsula, as the roads were severely damaged. Additionally, helicopter surveys revealed numerous fires and extensive destruction to buildings and infrastructure.

According to public broadcaster NHK, there have been reports of eight fatalities in the severely affected town of Wajima, which is located near the epicentre of the earthquake. In the neighbouring town of Suzu, certain doctors faced difficulties reaching a hospital that was dependent on a backup generator for electricity.

The national police reported that six individuals have tragically lost their lives, while the fire and disaster management agency has stated that 19 people are currently in a state of cardiac arrest.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, there have been over 90 recorded tremors since the earthquake struck on Monday. The agency has cautioned that there may be additional strong shocks in the coming days.

The disaster’s disruption caused empty shelves in convenience stores in Toyama city, which is about 100 km (60 miles) away from the severely affected area. This was due to the disruption of regional goods delivery.

President Joe Biden expressed his readiness to offer any necessary assistance to Japan following the earthquake, according to a statement.

“The United States and Japan have a strong and enduring friendship that brings our people together.” We express our condolences to the Japanese people during this challenging period,” he stated.

On Monday evening, the Japanese government gave over 97,000 people instructions to leave their homes right away. They were directed to seek refuge in sports halls and school gymnasiums, which are typically designated as emergency evacuation centres.

On Tuesday, authorities lifted tsunami warnings, allowing many to safely return to their homes.

However, approximately 33,000 households in Ishikawa prefecture were still without power as of early Tuesday morning, as reported on Hokuriku Electric Power’s website. According to NHK, there is a lack of water supply in many areas of the northern Noto peninsula.

The Imperial Household Agency has announced the cancellation of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako’s scheduled New Year appearance on Tuesday in light of the recent disaster.

Power plants that utilise nuclear energy

The earthquake occurs during a critical period for Japan’s nuclear industry, which has encountered strong resistance from certain residents following the nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima caused by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. That catastrophic event had a significant impact on entire communities.

The Kansai Electric Power-operated Ohi and Takahama plants in Fukui Prefecture are among the nuclear plants along the Sea of Japan that have not shown any abnormalities. These plants currently have five active reactors.

The Shika plant of Hokuriku Electric, located closest to the epicentre, had already stopped its two reactors for routine inspections prior to the earthquake. According to the agency, there were no effects observed from the quake.

Kokusai Electric is currently conducting a thorough investigation into the damage discovered at its factory in Toyama as it prepares to resume operations on Thursday.

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