A powerful earthquake destroyed many homes in Japan's Honshu island on New Year's Day (Credit: Peacewinds.org/ CC-BY-SA-2.0/ Wikipedia.org)

Honshu, the largest of Japan's four main islands, was hit by a powerful earthquake at 4:10 pm local time on January 1, 2024. The 7.5 magnitude quake and the ensuing aftershocks triggered tsunami warnings across western Japan, sparked fires, and tore apart roads.

Several hundred buildings and homes in Honshu's Ishikawa prefecture were destroyed, and thousands of people have been evacuated. Many residents have no access to water or electricity just as winter is hitting its peak. As of January 3, 2024, 65 people have been confirmed dead, making it Japan's deadliest earthquake since 2016. More than 300 are injured.

The cities of Wajima and Suzu, on the northern tip of the prefecture's Noto Peninsula, are the hardest hit. At least 25 houses have collapsed in Wajima. Fourteen of them are believed to have people trapped inside. The fire has devoured about 200 buildings on Asaichi Street, a popular tourist destination. In Suzu, 53 houses have been flattened, and several boats have capsized.

"More than 40 hours have passed since the disaster. We have received a lot of information about people in need of rescue, and there are people waiting for help," Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on January 3, 2024. "Rescue efforts are being made by the local authorities, police, firefighters, and other operational units while the number of personnel and rescue dogs is enhanced."

The powerful earthquake triggered tsunami warnings across western Japan (Credit: Japan Meteorological Agency/ CC-BY-SA-2.0/ Wikipedia.org)

However, Mr. Kishida warned that the number of casualties could rise in the coming days. Though rescuers are scrambling to look for survivors in the rubble, their efforts are being hindered by the ongoing aftershocks and inclement weather. Also, landslides and fires are making it challenging to send additional rescue personnel to the remote region.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people in Japan. Stay strong! The world is with you!

Resources: CNN.com, DW.com, NPR.org