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Deadly Earthquake in Japan Sparks Major Tsunami Warning

On January 1st, 2024, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit the west coast of Japan in Ishikawa. Dozens of aftershocks followed the first earthquake, with the highest-level tsunami alert issued to citizens. 

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, more than 200 tremors have been recorded since Monday afternoon. The tsunami warning was soon dropped, but officials are enforcing residents of the coast not to return home as deadly waves are still at risk. Some reported seeing waves up to 3.9 feet (1.2 meters) high. It was the first major tsunami warning since the 2011 tsunami that killed over 18,000 people in Japan. 

So far, there have been 55 casualties and thousands of buildings, cars, and boats damaged. The quake also resulted in a fire in Wajima City that burned over 200 buildings. More than 30,000 houses are without power, and many are also without water or mobile phone service. The majority of the death toll have been citizens from the cities of Wajima and Suzu. 

The area is well-known for its landscapes and scenery. There are reports of landslides, fires, and damaged roads and buildings, leaving many with an uncertain future. Tens of thousands of homes were destroyed in the initial quake, trapping many people in the rubble. The Japanese military has sent more than 1,000 soldiers to disaster zones. 

In a Japanese Coast Guard aircraft, five crew members got killed in a collision at Haneda Airport located in Tokyo. This aircraft was being sent as aid for earthquake victims. The Coast Guard aircraft collided with a plane carrying 379 passengers, all of whom evacuated before the plane caught fire.

Videos and photos are surfacing online, showing the damage and reality that many people are currently facing. US President Joe Biden has released a statement where he expressed that “the United States stands ready to provide any necessary assistance for the Japanese people.”

Japan is prone to earthquakes because the island is located on the Ring of Fire, a tectonic belt on the Pacific Basin. However, Japan is one of the countries most prepared for disaster. “Saving lives is our priority, and we are fighting a battle against time,” said The Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, on Tuesday. Citizens will likely have to remain evacuated for a few more days as search and rescue continue looking through the area. 

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