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203 dead, 68 missing in Japan’s quake-hit Ishikawa amid secondary hazard fears

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Tokyo: The death toll reached 203 in the central Japanese prefecture of Ishikawa as of 9:00 a.m. local time on Wednesday, with 68 people unaccounted for, nine days after a series of strong quakes of up to 7.6 magnitude jolted the Noto region and its vicinity, according to local authorities.

The prefectural government on Wednesday confirmed seven disaster-related deaths, six in Suzu city and one in Noto town, national news agency Kyodo reported.

They were not killed by the quakes but passed away due to deteriorating injuries or illnesses caused by physical and mental strain in the aftermath of the disaster.

In a breakdown of the death toll, 91 had been confirmed in Suzu City, 81 in Wajima City, 20 in Anamizu Town, five in Nanao City, three in Noto Town, two in Shika Town and one in Hakui City.

In the affected areas, there is a heightened focus on the risk assessment of building collapses, with continuous rainfall since Tuesday, raising concerns about the potential for secondary hazards such as landslides, prompting the prefectural authorities to issue warnings.

The atmosphere remains unstable due to the influence of pressure troughs and cold air aloft, increasing the possibility of ground loosening in the Noto region due to the cumulative effects of previous earthquakes and rain-induced snowmelt, Kyodo reported citing the regional meteorological observatory of Kanazawa.

As per the prefectural authorities, over 26,000 people are taking shelter in evacuation centers, amid surging spreading risks of infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and influenza. Approximately 3,100 individuals, meanwhile, remain isolated due to road disruptions.

In response to the confusion triggered by sudden changes in the number of individuals whose whereabouts are unknown, local authorities said that the number is constantly updated by integrating information collected through different channels.

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