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55 Confirmed Dead in strong Japan Quakes amid Aftershocks

The death toll has risen to 55 in the central Japanese prefecture of Ishikawa as of Tuesday evening, after a series of powerful earthquakes hit the area in central Japan and the vicinity, with aftershocks and more damage reports coming in.

In a separate tragedy on Tuesday, a Japan Coast Guard (JCG) aircraft taxiing on the runway to transport relief goods for quake-hit areas in Niigata Prefecture collided with a passenger plane at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

Five of the six crew members on board the JCG aircraft were confirmed dead, while the captain who managed to escape earlier was severely injured.

In its latest update, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said a 4.6-magnitude earthquake struck off the Noto Peninsula at 5:13 p.m. local time on Tuesday at a depth of 10 km, measuring upper 5.

As of 11 a.m. local time, a total of 57,360 people evacuated in 955 locations across quake-affected Ishikawa and Niigata prefectures, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi told the press on Tuesday.

Local media reports showed that the water supply has been cut in a total of 16 cities and towns in the quake-hit Noto region. Approximately 1,000 Self-Defense Force officers have arrived at the disaster area to carry out rescue operations.

The JMA on Tuesday said the earthquake, which measured the country’s maximum seismic intensity of 7, recorded a maximum three-component vector sum peak ground acceleration of 28,266 gals.

The figure is comparable to the 29,334 gals recorded in Kuriyama city, Miyagi prefecture, which also experienced a top-intensity quake during the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

It is generally assumed that the greater the acceleration, the larger the shaking and damage, but other factors, such as the duration of the shaking, also play a role, said the JMA.

Injuries are reported in the prefectures of Ishikawa, Niigata, Fukui, Toyama, and Gifu, national broadcaster NHK reported on Tuesday.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told a press briefing on Tuesday that relief efforts are being hampered by obstructions on the roads.

“This is also making it difficult to send heavy machinery. We’re thinking about ways to secure routes and using ships could be one option,” the prime minister was quoted by NHK as saying.

A series of strong earthquakes, with a major one of preliminary 7.6 magnitude, occurred on Monday at a shallow depth on the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture. The JMA has officially named it the 2024 Noto Peninsula Earthquake.

The JMA has lifted all tsunami advisories along the Sea of Japan following the quake, but weather officials warned that strong aftershocks may occur in the week, especially over the next two to three days. Since Monday, Japan has been hit by at least 155 quakes.