Powerful Earthquakes Leave At Least 48 Dead, Destroy Buildings In Japan

(AP) — A series of powerful earthquakes that hit western Japan have left at least 48 people dead and damaged thousands of buildings, vehicles and boats.

Officials warned that more quakes could lie ahead.

Aftershocks continued to shake Ishikawa prefecture and nearby areas a day after a magnitude 7.6 temblor slammed the area on Monday afternoon.

Forty-eight people were confirmed dead in Ishikawa, officials said.

Sixteen others were seriously injured, while damage to homes was so great that it could not immediately be assessed, they said.

Japanese media reports said tens of thousands of homes were destroyed.

Government spokesperson Yoshimasa Hayashi said 17 people were seriously injured and gave a slightly lower death tally while saying he was aware of the prefecture’s tally.

Water, power and cell phone service were still down in some areas, and residents expressed sorrow about their destroyed homes and uncertain futures.

“It’s not just that it’s a mess. The wall has collapsed, and you can see through to the next room. I don’t think we can live here anymore,” Miki Kobayashi, an Ishikawa resident, said as she swept around her house.

Their house was also damaged in a 2007 quake, she said.

Although casualty numbers continued to climb gradually, the prompt public warnings relayed on broadcasts and phones, and the quick response from the general public and officials appeared to have kept at least some of the damage under control.

The rescue efforts that quickly followed from firefighters, police and the military proved a testament to how this nation has repeatedly withstood disasters, which have practically become a part of everyday life.