Devastating 7.6 Magnitude Earthquake in Japan 

By Sammy Nishihama 

January 31, 2024
A seven story building that had fallen over during the earthquake in Wajima, Japan (photo credit: The Guardian)

On January 1st, 2024, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck the Noto Peninsula in the Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan. The earthquake had a terrible impact on the surrounding area, damaging over 1400 homes. “At least 296 acres (120 hectares) of land were flooded from a tsunami triggered by the earthquake,“ the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) reports. 

Over 26,000 people are still living in shelters in the prefecture, with 3,100 people cut off due to road damage and weather. As of Tuesday afternoon, 202 people were confirmed dead with 102 unaccounted for,” according to Kyodo News. 

Not only did the earthquake devastated the land it hit, but it has caused numerous other tragedies in the area. A fire broke out near the epicenter of the quake, destroying over 200 buildings and burning an estimated 48,000 square meters of land. 

Additionally, a deadly plane crash occurred when a Japanese earthquake relief aircraft crashed into a Japanese Airlines plane on Tuesday, January 2nd. The relief aircraft burst into flames, landing on the Haneda airport in Tokyo. Five people in the relief aircraft were killed by the collision, while all 379 people on Japanese Airlines flight 516 were safely evacuated, with just four of the passengers injured. 

Burned out remains of the Japanese Airlines flight (photo credit: CNN)

Japan is no stranger to earthquakes, however. An estimated 1500 earthquakes strike the country every year, though most are too mild to be felt. “Japan is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world, because it sits on top of four converging tectonic plates that constantly grind together,” says Gemma Conroy, a science journalist with Nature Journal. 

Less than a year ago, Japan experienced a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in May of 2023. Because the country is so prone to deadly earthquakes, they have a strongly developed response plan, making the country much more resilient. The majority of buildings in Japan are earthquake resistant, thanks to numerous design changes. Despite these safety precautions, Japan’s recent earthquake devastated the surrounding community, and has caused many losses and injuries throughout the country.