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Search continues in Japan, as 242 people missing after devastating earthquake

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The desperate search for 242 people missing after a powerful earthquake rocked Japan on New Year’s Day enters a critical phase as the 72-hour window for finding survivors nears its end.

As of Friday afternoon, the confirmed death toll from the 7.6 magnitude quake in the remote Noto peninsula has climbed to 92, raising concerns about the fate of those still unaccounted for.

With the crucial 72-hour window closing, hope remains for finding survivors trapped under debris or in isolated areas. Japan’s Self-Defense Forces have doubled their deployment, bringing the total number of troops involved in rescue and relief efforts to 4,600, according to Kyodo news agency. The additional personnel are focusing on scouring hard-hit areas, searching for any signs of life amidst the devastation.

Read Also: 10 natural disasters that shocked Africa in 2023

“We will not give up,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said after a meeting with disaster response officials on Friday.

Kishida urged rescue and relief workers to leave no stone unturned in reaching the affected communities.

“The biggest challenge for us is the access. Most disastrous areas are difficult to reach because of the rocks on the roads and landslides caused by the rain and the aftershocks,” said Musubi Yata from the Japanese Red Cross Society.

“When there were aftershocks, we had to stop and leave some medical activities because the roads may collapse,” she told the BBC.

The earthquake struck the Noto peninsula on the coast of the Sea of Japan, triggering landslides and damaging infrastructure. Communication lines remain disrupted in some areas, further hindering rescue efforts and adding to the anxiety of families awaiting news of their loved ones.

The Japanese government has mobilized emergency resources and deployed medical teams to provide assistance to the injured and displaced. Shelters have been set up to accommodate those who have lost their homes, and efforts are underway to restore electricity and water supplies.

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