The aftershocks that followed the January 1 earthquake in western Japan threatened the vital roadways necessary to transport much-needed relief as the death toll climbed to 126 on Saturday, the Associated Press reported.
A powerful 7.6 magnitude quake hit central Japan last Monday, destroying buildings and knocking out power to tens of thousands as residents in some coastal towns fled to higher ground.
The earthquake, the strongest to hit the region in over 40 years, triggered waves along the western coast of Japan and South Korea.
By Saturday morning, the death toll had reached 98, with more dead reported in Wajima and Anamizu City. By Saturday evening, the death toll stood at 126.
Most of the dead were in the city of Wajima where 69 fatalities were reported. Another 23 were reported dead in Suzu. In total 500 people were injured in the quake and aftershocks. Of those 27 were seriously injured.
One of the seriously injured, a 5-year-old boy who was scalded by boiling water during last Monday’s earthquake, died four days later after his condition suddenly grew worse.
With more than 200 still unaccounted for, the death toll could continue to rise.
Officials warned over the weekend that the roads already damaged by dozens of aftershocks could collapse, particularly given the rain and snow forecast for Sunday.
As the week progressed, power was restored on Japan’s western coastline. However, the supply of drinking water was running low since the emergency water system was also damaged in the earthquakes.
Japanese troops were transporting food, water, and medicine by road and air to the more than 32,000 people evacuated due to the earthquakes.
World leaders sent messages of support and condolences to Japan, including North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Yoshimasa Hayashi, a spokesman for the prime minister, said Japan was grateful for the support and condolences it received from President Biden and other allies, as well as Kim Jong Un. Hayashi pointed out that the last time North Korea sent a condolence message to Japan was in 1995.