Wajima, Japan — Rescuers worked through the snow to deliver supplies to isolated towns, six days after a powerful earthquake hit western Japan and killed at least 126 people. Heavy snowfall was expected in Ishikawa Prefecture later on Sunday and overnight, adding urgency to their tasks.
After Monday’s 7.6 magnitude earthquake, 222 people remained to be located, and 560 people were injured. There had been hundreds of aftershocks that shook the Noto peninsula, where the tremors were concentrated.
Taiyo Matsushita walked three hours through the mud to reach a supermarket in the city of Wajima to buy food and other supplies for his family. The house where he lives with his wife and his four children, and about 20 nearby homes, are among the more than a dozen towns isolated by landslides.
There was no electricity and in a matter of hours they would no longer be able to use their cell phones, he told Jiji Press.
“We want everyone to know that aid is not reaching some places,” Matsushita said in statements cited by Jiji Press. “We feel very linked to this population. But when I think about my children, it’s hard to imagine that we can continue living here.”
A nonagenarian woman was rescued Saturday night from a ruined house in Suzu, Ishikawa Prefecture, after 124 hours trapped in the rubble. She was greeted by shouts of encouragement, although darkness and a long blue plastic tarp hid her from view.
The chances of survival are drastically reduced after the first 72 hours.
Ishikawa officials reported 1,370 homes completely or partially destroyed. Many of the homes in that western coastal region of the main island are old and wooden. Cars were seen overturned on cracked and potholed roads. Snow covered highways and debris. Cables dangled from leaning poles.
The more than 30,000 people who evacuated to schools, auditoriums and community centers slept on cold floors. They trembled with fear during the aftershocks. They prayed that their missing loved ones were safe. Others wept softly for the dead.
Some people were living in their cars, and long lines formed at gas stations. Food and water became scarce as concerns grew about snow and rain increasing the risk of mudslides and other damage, while snow accumulating on rooftops threatened to topple barely standing homes. .
A fire that lasted for hours destroyed a considerable part of Wajima and a tsunami swept homes and cars into murky waters.