Powerful 7.5-Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Western Japan on New Year’s Day

Tokyo, Japan – A powerful 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck western Japan on New Year’s Day, resulting in at least six deaths and dozens of injuries, while forcing rescuers to work against the clock to find survivors.

The earthquake, which hit the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture, inflicted damage to roads and buildings and caused power outages affecting 45,000 homes. Although tsunami warnings were issued in eastern Russia, they were downgraded to advisories and eventually canceled on Tuesday morning.

Following the initial quake, over 140 aftershocks have been reported, prompting warnings from Japan’s Meteorological Agency about the possibility of continued strong tremors. As a precaution, more than 97,000 individuals were evacuated from their homes on the night of the earthquake.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized the urgent need for search and rescue efforts, expressing his government’s commitment to prioritizing human lives and ensuring a swift disaster response. In response to the devastation in Ishikawa prefecture, Kishida promptly set up the Prime Minister’s Office of Disaster Counter Measure HQ.

Six fatalities were confirmed in Ishikawa, with over 30 injuries reported in neighboring prefectures. Additionally, reports indicated that more than a dozen deaths had been confirmed thus far.

Notably, this marked the first time since 2011, when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck Tohoku, that Japan issued a major tsunami warning. The devastating earthquake caused catastrophic damage and deadly tsunami waves that year.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako canceled their New Year’s celebration due to the earthquake, as did Prime Minister Kishida, who postponed his visit to Isle Shrine. The earthquake’s impact was also felt in the United States, as President Joe Biden expressed solidarity with the people of Japan and pledged to provide any necessary assistance.

In light of the earthquake’s widespread consequences, officials temporarily suspended bullet train services, while Japan Airlines and Nippon Airways canceled all flights in the affected region. Moreover, strong aftershocks and power outages were reported, although the country’s nuclear authority assured that there was no risk of radioactivity leaking from nuclear power plants in the affected areas.

Japan, located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, faces an ongoing threat of earthquakes due to the convergence of multiple tectonic plates. Consequently, the country has developed a sophisticated tsunami warning system to address the persistent seismic risks.