Japanese rescuers continue to search for survivors from Monday’s earthquake in Ishikawa prefecture as authorities warned heavy rain, landslides and repeated aftershocks could hamper relief efforts.

The regional government said on Wednesday that 62 people had been confirmed dead and more than 300 injured, 20 of them seriously.

It warned the death toll was likely to climb further.

The magnitude-7.6 quake struck on Monday afternoon off the Noto Peninsula, flattening houses in Suzu on its northern coast and triggering fires that ravaged parts of nearby Wajima City. It also ripped up roads, adding to the challenge of search and rescue.

More than 31,800 people were in shelters, the government said.

“More than 40 hours have passed since the disaster. We have received a lot of information about people in need of rescue and there are people waiting for help,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said after an emergency task force meeting.

“Rescue efforts are being made by the local authorities, police, firefighters and other operational units, while the number of personnel and rescue dogs is enhanced.”

Kishida said the central government was trying to bring help to the worst-affected parts of the Noto Peninsula by ship because roads had been left almost impassable. Japan’s Self-Defence Forces was also using helicopters to reach cut-off villages, the Kyodo news agency reported.

Complicating the relief effort, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said heavy rain was expected, which could increase the risk of landslides.

Source: Aljazeera

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