Pray: Devastating Earthquakes Strike Japan, Leaving 57 Dead and Dozens Injured

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Japan is facing a tragic crisis as a series of major earthquakes have rocked the nation’s west coast, claiming at least 57 lives, injuring dozens, and causing widespread destruction. 

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, speaking at an emergency disaster meeting, emphasized the urgent need to rescue those affected, especially those trapped under debris.

The quakes, with the largest measuring 7.6 in magnitude, struck on Monday, shaking buildings in Tokyo, over 180 miles away. The epicenter was on the Noto peninsula, extending into the Sea of Japan, where most casualties and injuries occurred. Grim scenes of bodies being extracted from collapsed buildings have been reported, with many still missing as of Tuesday.

The meteorological agency warns of potential aftershocks in the coming days. Despite lifted tsunami warnings, coastal residents are advised against returning home. Public broadcaster NHK-TV initially warned of possible high tsunami waves, prompting widespread evacuations to safer buildings like sports halls and schools. A 3,000-strong rescue team is working in the affected areas, with officials cautioning about more aftershocks and quakes in the days ahead.

The Noto peninsula faces significant challenges in rescue efforts due to severely damaged infrastructure. Over 1,000 army personnel have been deployed, but blocked roads and a local airport closure hamper operations.

In Wajima city, fires continued into Tuesday, leaving over 100 homes and buildings in ruins, with at least 15 fatalities reported. The Asachi-dori street area, known for wooden buildings and popular among tourists, suffered significant damage. Suzu city Mayor Masuhiro Izumiya described the situation as catastrophic, with up to 1,000 houses possibly destroyed.

In Nanao city, many residents are missing or believed to be trapped. Transportation, including bullet trains and flights, was suspended on Tuesday. Major highways are closed, and water supplies disrupted in some areas due to burst pipes. Mobile networks also suffered damage but are gradually being restored.

Prime Minister Kishida, in a disaster relief outfit, pointed out the challenges in accessing the northern Noto peninsula. Around 120 people await rescue, and many rail services and flights are suspended. Over 500 people were stranded at Noto’s airport, now closed due to damage.

U.S. President Joe Biden expressed solidarity, offering necessary assistance to Japan. This earthquake marks Japan’s deadliest since the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake. Despite no reported radiation spikes or abnormalities at over 20 coastal nuclear reactors, concerns arise, especially after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi plant meltdown.

Disaster expert Toshitaka Katada praised the Japanese for their readiness but cautioned that the situation remains unpredictable. Pope Francis conveyed condolences, expressing his closeness to those suffering in central Japan, offering prayers for the dead and those mourning their loss.

Archbishop Tarcisio Kikuchi of Tokyo assured the Church’s prayers for the victims, announcing that a team from the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Japan is assessing the damage before deciding the Church’s response.

In a telegram on the Pope’s behalf, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin stated the Pope’s deep sadness over the loss of life and damage caused by the earthquake. Pope Francis assured everyone affected of his heartfelt solidarity, spiritual closeness, and prayers, especially for the dead and those still missing. He encouraged civil authorities and emergency personnel, invoking divine blessings of consolation and strength.

As Japan faces this disaster, the global community extends support, emphasizing the importance of united efforts in the face of such tragic events.

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