On the first day of the New Year 2024, Japan faced a significant challenge as a powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck the central region. This seismic event led to multiple aftershocks, triggering tsunami warnings and forcing authorities to issue urgent evacuation orders.
At 4:10 pm local time (07:10 GMT), the earthquake wreaked havoc in the Noto region of Ishikawa Prefecture. The intensity measured 7 on the Japanese scale, resulting in collapsed buildings, cracked roads, and even an ‘amusement swimming pool wave’ in a river. This disaster unfolded amidst 21 earthquakes registering above 4.0 magnitude in just 90 minutes.
The Japan Meteorological Agency promptly issued tsunami warnings for coastal prefectures, including Ishikawa, Niigata, and Toyama. Residents were urgently advised to evacuate to higher ground as waves, reaching up to 1.2 meters initially, struck the Wajima port in Ishikawa prefecture. The potential for larger waves, up to 5 meters, loomed over the north coast of central Japan.
Impact and Response:
The aftermath saw scenes of destruction, with buildings collapsing in Ishikawa and tremors shaking structures in Tokyo. Over 36,000 households lost power in Ishikawa and Toyama, while the Hokuriku Electric Power reported no irregularities at nuclear power plants along the Sea of Japan. The Indian Embassy in Japan established an emergency control room and issued helpline numbers to assist those affected.
The severity of the situation prompted urgent calls for evacuation. The national broadcaster, NHK, displayed “EVACUATE” in bold letters, emphasizing the importance of lives over belongings. Videos surfaced on social media depicting the earthquake’s impact on homes and subway trains, highlighting the urgency for residents to seek higher ground.
Japan’s vulnerability to earthquakes was once again starkly evident. The country, situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, faces constant seismic threats. The 2011 earthquake and tsunami, a devastating event in northeastern Japan, serves as a poignant reminder of the nation’s susceptibility to such natural disasters.