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Death toll from western Japan earthquake rises to 126

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The risk that roads could collapse completely has intensified with rain and snow expected overnight and Sunday.


The death toll from the earthquakes that rattled Japan’s western coastline last week rose to 126 on Saturday, with aftershocks threatening to block roads crucial for relief shipments and bury more homes.

Officials warned that roads, already cracked from the dozens of earthquakes continuing to shake the area, could collapse completely with the expected increase of rain and snow over the weekend. 

Wajima city in the centre of Japan has recorded the highest number of deaths with 69, followed by Suzu with 38.  Some 500 people were injured, at least 27 of them seriously.

More than 200 people were still unaccounted for, although the number has fluctuated. Eleven people were reported trapped under two homes that collapsed in Anamizu.

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 Saturday.

Japan earlier received messages expressing sympathy and promises of aid from President Joe Biden and other allies.

Along Japan’s coastline, power was gradually being restored, but water supplies were still short. Emergency water systems were also damaged.

Thousands of troops were flying and trucking in water, food and medicine to the more than 30,000 people who had evacuated to auditoriums, schools and other facilities.

The nationally circulated Yomiuri newspaper reported that its aerial study had located more than 100 landslides in the area, and some were blocking lifeline roads.

The urgency of the rescue operation has intensified as the days wore on. Some survivors clung to life while trapped under pillars and walls of collapsed homes. 

One man was pulled out 72 hours after a series of powerful quakes started rattling Japan’s western coast.

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