The arrival of 2024 has not been kind to Japan.
Earthquake in Ishikawa Prefecture
On New Year’s day at approximately 4:10 pm local time, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck the Ishikawa Prefecture causing devastation to a vast area of the country whilst also prompting tsunami warnings for parts of Japan’s north by north westerly coastline.
The 7.6 earthquake, the second largest since the Tohoku earthquake in 2011, caused buildings to collapse, fires to break out, as well as ripping up the very ground leaving huge cracks around much of the area.
What made this earthquake particularly devastating was the fact that its epicenter was focused on the tip of the prefecture in an area known as the Noto Peninsula (although the shocks were felt nearly 200 miles away in Tokyo), as well as the fact that it was regarded as being quite shallow beneath the earth’s surface.
Following the earthquake, tsunami warnings were issued to much of the coastline where residents were told to evacuate; some small tsunami were reported along parts of Niigata and Toyama prefectures but turned out not to be as serious as some feared. The warnings were later downgraded to advisories.
Smaller earthquakes and aftershocks continue to rumble on two days after the devastating event with officials advising they could continue for about a week.
The destruction caused has hampered recovery and aid efforts with some areas becoming inaccessible by road, however time is of the essence to help those that have become trapped in their homes and by fallen debris. The current death toll stands at over 200 with hundreds more injured.
Collision at Haneda airport
If the New Years day earthquake wasn’t enough, the following day (Tuesday) a Japan Airlines passenger plane collided with a light aircraft at Tokyo’s Haneda. The passenger jet was arriving on the runway the same time the light aircraft was preparing to depart. Both planes were engulfed in flames as they could be seen driving across the runway.
All of the Japan Airlines 379 crew and passengers made it off safely thanks to quick reactions and brilliant safety protocols, however the smaller light aircraft saw 5 of the 6 crew unfortunately die at the scene with only the pilot escaping the tragedy. Worse yet, the plane was set to depart in order to deliver supplies to the recent earthquake hit area of Ishikawa prefecture.
It is not entirely clear still what caused the accident to occur but there are reports of potential miscommunication between coast guard officials and the pilot of the light aircraft.