Noto Peninsula Earthquake: Search Operation Continues in Ishikawa Pref. Town

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Search for missing persons continues in Anamizu, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Saturday.

KANAZAWA — As the death toll in Ishikawa Prefecture from the Noto Peninsula Earthquake exceeded 100 Saturday, search for missing persons continued in many quake-stricken areas.

A 52-year-old man watched rescue operations in Anamizu, Ishikawa Prefecture, praying for the safety of his seven family members who were stuck under the debris of the collapsed house of his wife’s parents.

Three buildings collapsed due to a landslide at the site, leaving five men and women dead as of Saturday evening, according to the town government. Eleven people are still missing, including four family members and three relatives of Naoyuki Teramoto, an employee at a support facility for the disabled in Kanazawa.

The Teramotos had traditionally spent the New Year’s holiday at the home of the parents of Teramoto’s wife Hiromi, 53. Hiromi went to the home with the couple’s eldest son Ryusei, 23, second son Shunki, 21, third son Kyoya, 19, and eldest daughter Mione, 15, on Dec. 31.

Hiromi’s younger brother and his wife, and their elementary school-age child had also gathered there where Hiromi’s parents, Yoshihiro Ueno, 79, and Harumi, 76, live.

Teramoto was scheduled to join them in the evening of Jan. 1 after finishing his work. He exchanged New Year’s messages with his family members on a LINE group as soon as the new year started. As he was about to leave Kanazawa in the evening, Teramoto felt a violent tremor.

He called Hiromi many times but could not get through. Since the area around her parents’ house always had poor cell phone reception, he said he first thought they must have been able to evacuate safely. However, he became more worried as he was unable to contact anyone in his family.

After contacting the town office and prefectural police, Teramoto learned that Hiromi’s parents’ house had collapsed due to a landslide. He had to wait until Friday morning to leave Kanazawa by car since roads were blocked or closed in many places due to the earthquake. While driving, he repeatedly said to himself, “They are alive somewhere, and I will see them soon.”

Having arrived at the site on Friday evening after driving over rough roads, he was left dazed after seeing the destruction. The house had been swept away by earth and sand. Most of the roof tiles had fallen, and utility poles around the house were destroyed.

Still, he continued to watch rescue operations by firefighters, believing that his family members will be safely rescued.

Later, Hiromi’s parents and Shunki were found in the debris, but were confirmed dead. Shunki’s body was so badly damaged that Teramoto was only able to recognize him by his clothes, which he saw him wear on Saturday morning. Teramoto said he could not move for a while because of the huge sense of loss.

“I will watch over the rescue operations to the end. I have not given up hope. I want to see the New Year with everyone once again,” he tearfully said.