A woman in her 90s was pulled alive from a collapsed house in western Japan, 124 hours after a major earthquake struck the region, killing at least 126 people, collapsing buildings and triggering landslides.
The woman in Suzu City, Ishikawa Prefecture, survived for more than five days after the 7.6-magnitude earthquake hit the area on Monday. News footage broadcast nationally showed rescue workers wearing helmets covering the area with blue plastic, with the woman not visible.
The chances of survival diminish after the first 72 hours. Several other dramatic rescues have been reported over the past few days as soldiers, firefighters and others joined a large-scale effort.
Among the 126 dead was a 5-year-old child who was recovering from injuries he sustained when boiling water was poured on him during Monday's 7.6-magnitude earthquake. His condition suddenly worsened and he died on Friday, according to Ishikawa Prefecture, the hardest-hit area.
Aftershocks threatened to bury more homes and close important routes for relief shipments. Officials warned that already cracked roads could collapse completely. This danger increases with rain and snow expected to fall overnight and on Sunday.
Wajima City had the highest number of deaths with 69 people, followed by Suzu with 38 people. More than 500 people were injured, at least 27 of them in serious condition.
The tremors left roofs sitting miserably on the roads and everything underneath them collapsed. The roads were warped like rubber. A fire reduced a Wajima neighborhood to ashes.
More than 200 people are still missing, although the number fluctuates. 11 people were reported trapped under two collapsed houses in Anamizo.
For Shiro Kokoda, 76, the house he grew up in in Wajima survived, but a nearby temple caught fire, and he was still searching for his friends in evacuation centers.
“It was really hard,” he said.
Japan is one of the fastest aging societies in the world. The population in Ishikawa and surrounding areas has dwindled over the years. The fragile economy, which relies on handicrafts and tourism, is more vulnerable than ever.
In an unusual gesture from neighboring North Korea, leader Kim Jong Un sent a message of condolence to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the official Korean Central News Agency reported Saturday.
Japanese government spokesman Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters that Japan is grateful for all the messages, including the one sent from North Korea. The last time Japan received a letter of condolence from North Korea for a disaster was in 1995, Hayashi said.
Along the Japanese coast, electricity was gradually restored, but water supplies were still scarce. Emergency water networks were also damaged.
The nationally circulated Yomiuri newspaper reported that its aerial study identified more than 100 landslides in the area, some of which were blocking vital roads. Some communities remained isolated, still waiting for help.
“I hope the city will recover, and I hope people will not leave, and will stay here to work hard to recover,” said Seizo Shinbo, a seafood merchant who was stocking noodles, canned goods and rice balls at a supermarket. .
“There is no food. There is no water. The worst is the gas. People are still standing in queues kilometers long.”
Kageyama reported from Tokyo. Associated Press writer Hyung-Jin Kim in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.
Yuri Kageyama is at X: https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
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