Japan earthquake toll spikes to 92, with 242 missing persons

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The death toll from the series of powerful earthquakes that struck the central Japanese prefecture of Ishikawa earlier this week, increased to 92 on Friday, with at least 242 persons reportedly missing as rescue and search efforts intensify amid concerns of escalating damages.

Of the total missing persons, the worst-hit city of Wajima has reported 40, according to Japanese news agency Kyodo. The Self-Defense Forces have also expanded their efforts with approximately 4,600 personnel involved, collaborating with the police and fire departments to expedite the search and confirmation of the safety of the missing people, reports Xinhua news agency.

An area of about 48,000 square meters, equivalent to the size of 4.5 football fields, was destroyed after a massive fire broke out in the centre of Wajima city during the temblors, Kyodo reported, citing the latest estimates from the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan.

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The delivery of essential supplies remains a challenge, with over 10 locations experiencing road closures due to landslides. Meanwhile, over 700 people are stranded in isolated communities across the prefecture. The region’s infrastructure has suffered severe setbacks, with around 30,000 households facing power outages and 80,000 others in 13 cities and towns experiencing water supply disruptions.

While some 33,000 people have stayed at about 370 evacuation centres in Ishikawa, issues related to sanitation, including access to toilets, have also emerged as pressing concerns, local media reports showed. A series of strong earthquakes, with a major one of 7.6 magnitude, on Monday struck at a shallow depth in the Noto region of Ishikawa.

The Japan Meteorological Agency has officially named it the 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake. Centered around 30 km east-northeast of Wajima, the devastating quake registered a maximum intensity of 7, which would make it impossible for people to stand.