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Japan earthquake: Race against time to find survivors

AsiaJapan earthquake: Race against time to find survivors

Thousands of rescuers pressed on in a search for survivors of a New Year’s Day earthquake that killed at least 84 people in Japan, hoping to save as many as possible despite a three-day survival window that ended on Thursday afternoon.

“We must continue putting all of our efforts into rescuing people, even beyond 72 hours after the disaster,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a news conference.

Survival rates drop off 72 hours after a quake, according to emergency responders.

So far 156 people have been rescued, but at least 179 others remain unaccounted for, according to authorities.

The extent of the damage from the earthquake and the tsunami it triggered remains unclear, with rescuers struggling to reach the northernmost areas of the peninsula – where much of the fatalities are – due to severed roads.

Three days after disaster struck, 30 villages remain inaccessible, according to Ishikawa prefecture authorities.

Material aid has trickled in but many evacuees remain largely cut off from food, water, electricity, and communications amid freezing temperatures and bad weather, authorities have also said.

The 3,000 meals and 5,000 water bottles that were delivered as of Wednesday are not nearly enough for the 11,000 evacuees in Wajima city, its mayor, Shigeru Sakaguchi, said at a regional disaster response meeting.

“First and foremost, it’s the road – severed roads are hampering not just aid supplies, but also the recovery of electricity, water, mobile signals, and other lifeline infrastructures,” he said.

There were almost 100 chokepoints and blockages on prefectural roads as of Thursday, according to Ishikawa officials.

Kishida pledged on Thursday to tap roughly 4 billion yen ($28 million) of the national budget for disaster relief.

(Reuters)

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