Huge Earthquake Strikes Japan on New Year’s Day

Huge Earthquake Strikes Japan on New Year’s Day — Here’s What We Know

A magnitude 7.6 quake shakes Japan, prompting tsunami warnings and massive evacuations.

A powerful earthquake — with a preliminary magnitude of 7.6 on the Richter scale — struck central Japan on 1 Jan 2024, halting New Year’s Day celebrations and causing widespread damage. The earthquake hit Ishikawa Prefecture’s Noto Peninsula on Monday afternoon, triggering waves that were reported to be over 1.2 metres high along the west coast of Japan and even in neighbouring South Korea.

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Massive Japan earthquake causes destruction across Noto Peninsula

Image credit: @takanori1223jp

Millions of Japanese traditionally visit shrines and temples on 1 Jan 2024 to mark the start of the new year. However, this year’s celebrations in central Japan were undoubtedly dampened by the earthquake. The quake, the strongest in the region in more than four decades, caused buildings to collapse and fires to break out in affected areas. It also caused at least 13 casualties, with officials saying the death toll will likely rise.

Japanese authorities ordered the evacuation of more than 97,000 people in nine prefectures. Thus, thousands of locals spent the night in school gymnasiums, halls, and classrooms. At the same time, rescue operations quickly went underway, with army personnel deployed to assist local authorities. 

earthquake japan

Image credit: @bdjoetsu

Following the quake, tsunami warnings flashed across television screens, urging residents in specific coastal areas to immediately seek higher ground. The earthquake prompted a major tsunami warning, but officials has since downgraded the warning to an advisory. 

While Ishikawa experienced the bulk of the damage, the earthquake’s impact extended beyond the region, jolting buildings in the capital Tokyo, some 500 kilometres away. Power outages affected tens of thousands of households, and transportation disruptions occurred across the country.

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Can I travel to Japan right now?

Image credit: @wanderers_noto

Travellers who are all set for their Japan trip can still fly into the country, as long as they’re travelling to places outside the areas devastated by the earthquake. 

Keep in mind that all flight services at Ishikawa’s Noto Airport have been cancelled on Tuesday, 2 Jan 2024. The East Japan Railway Company initially suspended parts of the Hokuriku and Joetsu Shinkansen services. However, the Hokuriku Shinkansen already partially resumed its operations, and Joetsu Shinkansen will likely resume by Tuesday afternoon.

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Celia Grace Nachura
Celia Grace Nachura

There are very few things Celia won’t do for a good story, but her favourite ones always involve the beach, animals, or any type of outdoor activity. She’s been writing for as long as she can remember, and can usually be found typing away at home with her cute dogs at her feet. Away from work, she spends most of her time trying out every hobby she can get her hands on, from running to crocheting to baking (she’s pretty okay at most things that don't involve cooking).