The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Japan lifts tsunami warnings but warns earthquake damage ‘widespread’

At least 48 people have been reported dead after a massive earthquake hit the coast of central Japan on New Year’s Day. Authorities raised the death toll on Tuesday afternoon. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has warned that the damage is “widespread,” and with rescue teams struggling to access some remote areas, it is feared that casualties could rise. The magnitude 7.6 quake struck on Monday afternoon near the Noto peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture, triggering the country’s first major tsunami warning since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that had about 18,500 people declared dead or missing in the northeast. Speaking on Tuesday, Kishida said “extensive damage” had been confirmed with the earthquake bringing down buildings and triggering fires. “The search and rescue of those impacted by the quake is a battle against time,” the prime minister said. Moreover, Kishida said rescuers were finding it very difficult to access the northern tip of the Noto peninsula where helicopter surveys had discovered many fires and widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure. There are about 120 cases of people awaiting rescue, his government spokesperson later said. Authorities said rescue efforts had been hindered by damaged roads and that they were finding it difficult to assess the full extent of the fallout. However, the initial tsunami warning, which was later downgraded, was lifted on Tuesday morning. Smoke billowing from Wajima after a large fire near the port was extinguished. In Suzu, a coastal town of just over 5,000 households near the quake’s epicentre, as many as 1,000 houses might have been destroyed, according to its mayor Masuhiro Izumiya. “The situation is catastrophic,” he said. Across Ishikawa prefecture, authorities have confirmed 30 deaths so far, with half of those in Wajima, another hard-hit city in the remote northern tip of the peninsula. Official updates on the toll have been infrequent. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the country had been hit by 155 earthquakes since the initial tremor on Monday. ‘Swaying violently’ Wajima was hit by a tsunami of at least 1.2 metres (four feet) and aerial news footage showed devastation from a major fire as a seven-storey building collapsed at the port. The fire engulfed a row of houses with people being evacuated in the dark, some with blankets and others carrying babies. Nobuko Sugimori, a 74-yearold resident of Nanao city in Ishikawa, said she had never experienced such a quake before. aljazeera

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.