Dozens still missing

A road is damaged by Monday’s earthquake in Wajima, Ishikawa prefecture, Japan Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. / KYODO NEWS VIA  AP
A road is damaged by Monday’s earthquake in Wajima, Ishikawa prefecture, Japan Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. / KYODO NEWS VIA AP

WAJIMA, Japan — A woman was pulled carefully from the rubble 72 hours after a series of powerful quakes started rattling Japan’s western coast. Despite rescue efforts, the death toll Friday grew to at least 94 people, and the number of missing was lowered to 222 after it shot up the previous day.

An older man was found alive Wednesday in a collapsed home in Suzu, one of the hardest-hit cities in Ishikawa Prefecture. His daughter called out, “Dad, dad,” as a flock of firefighters got him out on a stretcher, praising him for holding on for so long after Monday’s 7.6 magnitude earthquake.

Others were forced to wait while rescuers searched for loved ones.

Ishikawa officials said 55 of those who died were in the city of Wajima and 23 were in Suzu, while the others were reported in five neighboring towns. More than 460 people have been injured, at least 24 seriously.

The Earthquake Research Institute at the University of Tokyo found that the sandy coastline in western Japan shifted by up to 250 meters seaward in some places. The earthquakes set off a large fire in the town of Wajima, as well as tsunamis and landslides in the region. With some routes cut off by the destruction, worries grew about communities in which water, food, blankets and medicine had yet to arrive.

The United States announced $100,000 in aid Friday, including blankets, water and medical supplies, and promised more help would come. Dodgers major leaguer Shohei Ohtani also announced aid for the Noto area, though he did not disclose the amount.

Thousands of Japanese troops have joined the effort to reach the hardest-hit spots on the Noto Peninsula, the center of the quake, connected by a narrow land strip to the rest of the main island of Honshu. Experts warned of disease and even death at the evacuation centers that now house about 34,000 people who lost their homes, many of them older.

Masashi Tomari, a 67-year-old oyster farmer who lives in Anamizu city in Ishikawa, said it was tough sleeping on the floor with just one blanket. There was no heating until two stoves finally arrived Thursday — three days after the 7.6 quake struck.

“This is a terrible, cold place,” he said. / AP

Tomari felt at a loss thinking about his home, where broken glass and knocked over items littered the floor. It was pitch dark at night because the area was still out of power.

But Tomari and others were already thinking about rebuilding.

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