The earthquakes which struck central Japan on Monday January 1 left forty-eight dead and dozens injured in several departments – Ishikawa, Niigata and even Fukui and Gifu –, according to a new provisional report from local authorities released Tuesday January 2. A previous provisional report reported thirty deaths.

Occurring Monday at 4:10 p.m. local time (8:10 a.m. Paris time), this earthquake, the most powerful among more than 150 significant tremors felt until Tuesday morning, was recorded at a magnitude of 7.5 according to the Institute of Geophysics of the United States and 7.6 according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). The earthquake and its multiple aftershocks caused “numerous victims” and significant material damage, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday. “We must race against time” to save lives, he added.

Persistent fires amid smoking ruins

This earthquake, felt as far away as Tokyo, 320 kilometers as the crow flies from Noto, also caused considerable material damage and a tsunami on Monday on the coast of the Sea of ​​Japan, which ultimately remained of low magnitude – waves up to 1.20 meters high have been measured. The tsunami risk level, which had triggered a rare maximum alert from the JMA, was then downgraded in the evening and then permanently lifted on Tuesday at 10 a.m. (local time).

The extent of the destruction was revealed at daybreak on Tuesday: everywhere, old houses and collapsed buildings, cracked roads, capsized or stranded fishing boats and persistent fires amid smoldering ruins. .

A large fire notably ravaged part of the town center of Wajima, a small historic port in the north of the Noto peninsula, renowned for its lacquer craft products. A six-story commercial building also collapsed due to the earthquake.