Quake Death Toll Reaches 126 in Ishikawa Prefecture; Strong Aftershock Shakes Towns on Noto Peninsula (Update 4)

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People visit the ruins of their house in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Saturday morning, after burned down as a result of the Jan. 1 Noto Peninsula Earthquake.

The death toll in Ishikawa Prefecture from the Jan. 1 Noto Peninsula Earthquake grew to 126 Saturday, the prefectural government announced the same day.

As aftershocks continued, a powerful earthquake centered in the Noto region of the prefecture occurred at 5:26 a.m. on Saturday, registering upper 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in the town of Anamizu in the prefecture. It was the first earthquake to measure upper 5 on the peninsula since one that occurred on Wednesday.

The safety of 211 people remains unconfirmed in the prefecture. The weather is expected to be colder, which is likely to affect search and rescue operations.

According to the prefectural government, the number of people killed in the earthquake has risen to 126. Of these, 69 were in Wajima, 38 in Suzu City, nine in Anamizu, five in Nanao City, two each in the towns of Shika and Noto and one in Hakui City.

Since Wednesday night, the prefectural government has released information on people whose safety has not been confirmed, with 222 persons unaccounted for Friday afternoon. As of 9 a.m. on Saturday, the number of such persons increased by 332. As the day went on, the whereabouts of 121 were confirmed by reports from families and by other means, the safety of 211 people in the prefecture remained unknown.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the earthquake that rattled the Noto region early Saturday registered upper 5 in Anamizu and lower 5 in Nanao. Since the Jan. 1 earthquake that reached a seismic intensity of 7, there have been a total of 1,045 earthquakes with a seismic intensity of 1 or stronger as of 8 a.m. on Saturday.

A 37-year-old temp worker in Nanao evacuated to the municipal Nanao Tobu junior high school with four members of her family. “I and my children jumped to our feet due to this morning’s earthquake. The entire gymnasium was shaken and I couldn’t even think what to do,” she said, still looking frightened.

In Wajima, where Saturday morning’s earthquake registered a seismic intensity of 4, evacuees at a local community center who were surprised by the jolt looked at each other and huddled together. “How long will this go on? I am too scared to sleep,” a 54-year-old woman in the city said.

According to the prefecture, there were no longer any isolated communities or persons as of 8 a.m. on Saturday, but at least 40 areas in six municipalities including Wajima and Suzu remained in need of assistance due to poor road conditions and other reasons. The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry said 24 sections of National Highway Route 249 that runs through these cities were blocked as of 5:30 a.m. on Saturday.

According to the Kanazawa Local Meteorological Office, advisory-level snowfall is expected in the prefecture from Sunday to Monday. Ishikawa Gov. Hiroshi Hase said at a meeting of the prefectural government on Saturday, “I want all of you to protect yourselves when doing things.” He also called for the earthquake to be designated as a disaster of extreme severity, saying, “It is necessary to provide generous financial assistance for municipalities and people affected by the earthquake.”