A 90-year-old woman has been rescued alive from a collapsed house 124 hours after a massive earthquake struck western Japan, killing 126 people, causing collapsed buildings and landslides.
A woman in Ishikawa Prefecture in the city of Suzu survived more than five days after Monday's 7.6-magnitude earthquake. Nationally broadcast news footage showed helmeted rescuers covering the area with blue plastic, and the woman was nowhere to be seen.
Chances of survival decrease after the first 72 hours. Several dramatic rescues have been reported over the past few days as soldiers, firefighters and others joined the massive rescue effort.
One of the 126 dead was a five-year-old boy, recovering from injuries sustained when boiling water was spilled on him during the quake. Ishikawa Prefecture, the hardest-hit area, said his condition suddenly worsened and he died on Friday.
The tremors threatened to bury more homes and block roads critical to aid deliveries. Officials have warned that the already cracked roads are at risk of complete collapse. That risk is increasing as rain and snow are expected overnight and into Sunday.
The city of Wajima reported the highest number of deaths, with 69, followed by Suzu, with 38. More than 500 people were injured, at least 27 of them seriously.
The earthquake caused roofs to sit askew on the roads and everything beneath them collapsed flat. The roads were curved like rubber. The fire left Wajima's neighborhood in ashes.
Although the number fluctuates, more than 200 have yet to be found. 11 people are reported to be trapped under two collapsed houses in Anamisu.
Shiro Kokuta, 76, said the house in Wajima where he grew up was spared, but a nearby temple was gutted, and he was still searching for friends in evacuation centers. “It was very difficult,” he said.
Japan is one of the fastest aging societies in the world. Ishikawa and nearby areas have seen a decline in population over the past few years. A fragile economy based on handicrafts and tourism is now weaker than ever.
In an unusual gesture from nearby North Korea, leader Kim Jong-un sent a message of condolence to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the official Korean Central News Agency reported on Saturday.
Japan has already received messages expressing sympathy and promises of aid from US President Joe Biden and other allies.
Government spokesman Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters that Japan was grateful for all the news, including that of North Korea. Hayashi said that in 1995, Japan received a condolence message from North Korea.
The nationally circulated Yomiuri newspaper reported that its aerial survey found more than 100 landslides, with some blocking major roads. Some communities are isolated and still waiting for help.
“I hope the city recovers and people don't leave,” said Seizo Shinbo, a seafood vendor stocking noodles, canned goods and rice balls at the supermarket. .
“No food. No water. And worse is the gas. People are still standing in kilometer-long queues.