Flames Engulf Over 200 Buildings in Central Wajima, Ishikawa Pref., Following Powerful Earthquakes

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Buildings burn and what sounded like explosions were heard after a fire broke out following powerful earthquakes in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Monday.

WAJIMA, Ishikawa — The extent of the damage became more clear on Tuesday after a series of powerful earthquakes struck the Noto Peninsula and other areas of Ishikawa Prefecture on Monday.

In Shika in the prefecture, residents — many of whom had been enjoying New Year’s family gatherings — rushed to nearby evacuation centers and spent the evening concerned about the frequent aftershocks following a jolt registering the maximum 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale.

In central Wajima in the prefecture, firefighters were engaged in rescue activities at the site where a building collapsed from the base causing damage to nearby structures. Some people kept calling out to people trapped inside, saying, “Hang in there” and “Stay with us.”

A fire broke out Monday near the Wajima Morning Market, a tourist attraction. Efforts to extinguish it continued on Tuesday morning at the site, where white smoke rose after more than 200 buildings had burned down.

Residents and others in the area evacuated to Wajima city hall and other facilities. Some carried blankets and other items from their homes in preparation for staying in evacuation shelters.

City hall of Nanao in the prefecture was also crowded with evacuees. Some were seen wrapping themselves in blankets distributed by the municipality, and others were lying on the blankets spread out on the floors. People screamed every time an aftershock struck.

A 75-year-old woman who runs a ryokan inn in the city evacuated with her eldest son, his wife and two grandchildren, who were visiting for the New Year.

“We somehow managed to get out of the house to the street, crawling on all fours,” she said. “I was looking forward to having dinner with my family.”

Injured people continued to be brought to Suzu General Hospital in Suzu in the prefecture on Monday night.

“The hospital is in chaos as many things fell during the earthquakes,” said a male security guard in his 60s.