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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Woman in her 90s trapped under rubble in Japan for five days rescued

Japan faced a devastating start to the year when a magnitude-7.5 earthquake struck central Japan on New Year's Day.

Japan, a nation familiar with seismic activity, faced a devastating start to the New Year when a magnitude-7.5 earthquake struck central Japan on New Year’s Day. The tremor and subsequent aftershocks claimed the lives of at least 126 people, with 222 reported missing. As rescue efforts faced numerous challenges, a remarkable story emerged – a woman in her 90s trapped under rubble for five days was rescued, defying the odds and igniting a spark of hope in the midst of tragedy.

Tremor’s Impact

The earthquake and its aftershocks caused widespread destruction, toppling buildings, sparking fires, and triggering tsunami waves over a meter high. The Noto Peninsula, where the quake struck, bore the brunt of the disaster. Many communities were cut off by damaged roads, and approximately 1,000 landslides further complicated relief efforts.

Read More: Central Japan hit by powerful earthquake and tsunami

Miracle Rescue

The usual window for finding survivors narrows after the first three days following a destructive quake. However, against all expectations, rescue teams successfully extricated an elderly woman from the wreckage of a collapsed house in Suzu city after she spent an astonishing five days trapped. Rain fell as rescuers, from both Tokyo and Fukuoka, were heard encouraging her with shouts of, “Hang in there!” and “Stay positive!” The woman was promptly taken to the hospital, responding clearly to inquiries, providing a glimmer of hope amid the devastation.

Challenging Recovery Amidst Adverse Weather

As rescue efforts continued, adverse weather conditions posed additional challenges. The forecast predicted cold rain turning to snow, threatening to impede recovery missions and exacerbate conditions for over 30,000 people in government shelters. Damaged roads and landslides hindered aid vehicles’ access to isolated communities on the Noto Peninsula.

Government Response and Recovery Strategies

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized the immediate priorities of rescuing those trapped under rubble and reaching isolated communities. The military deployed small groups of troops to these communities on foot, while police and fire department helicopters were utilized for aerial access. Simultaneously, the government aimed to improve conditions in shelters, recognizing the prolonged stay of those affected by the disaster.

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Japan experiences hundreds of earthquakes annually, yet most cause minimal damage due to strict building codes implemented over four decades. However, the disaster revealed vulnerabilities in older structures, particularly in aging rural communities like Noto. The nation, haunted by the 2011 monster quake that triggered a devastating tsunami and nuclear catastrophe, now faces the task of balancing modernization with the preservation of historical structures.