Deadly Earthquake Hits Japan On New Year’s, Thousands Forced To Leave Their Homes 

On New Year’s Day, Japan was hit with a massive 7.6 magnitude earthquake that has left thousands of citizens without a home. The earthquake hit the western coast of Japan, and at least 168 people have died with dozens still missing, according to reports from the Associated Press.

Thousands of troops, police, and firefighters have traveled to join the rescue efforts on the coast of the country to go through collapsed buildings in hopes of finding survivors. 

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The danger is unfortunately still present for Japan, however, with authorities warning citizens of potential landslides, which there is an increased risk of due to heavy snowfall around the epicenter of the earthquake located on the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture. 

AP reported that the death tolls included 70 people in Wajima, 70 in Suzu, and 18 in Anamizu, the remaining deaths were among other surrounding towns. At least 323 people are still unaccounted for, with 565 people being treated for injuries. Around 1,390 homes were either seriously damaged, or completely destroyed. 

After the initial earthquake, Japan was also hit with a tsunami which added to the damage, and aftershocks have been continuous daily. 

Meteorological officials in Japan also warned that strong earthquakes could persist for up to another month. Recovery efforts have barely begun for residents due to the ongoing aftershocks. 

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Wajima, a tourist town that is known for its retail shopping street, had a lot of its parts destroyed due to fires that erupted from the earthquake. 

Around 30,000 people are currently staying in schools, auditoriums, and other evacuation centers throughout the area. However, many officials are worried about the additional risk of Covid-19 and other illnesses spreading within these centers. 

Shelters are struggling with the influx of struggling citizens who need shelter, food, water, and overall safety. People are sleeping on cold floors, and were initially only able to have a piece of bread and a cup of water a day. More aid is helping the centers and are actively working to get to those who need help to offer hot food and additional sleeping options. 

Soldiers have been able to set up some temporary bathing facilities with hot water for citizens who have been without for days. More stoves, clothing, bedding, food, water, and more are on the way to these evacuation centers, and rescue efforts are still ongoing. 

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Morocco Earthquake Death Toll Nears 2,900 With Over 5,500 Injured 

Nearly 3,000 individuals have been reported dead after the devastating earthquake that hit Morocco last Friday. Over 5,500 people are injured as search and rescue efforts throughout the destroyed terrain continue.

Authorities are losing hope of finding any more survivors as a majority of the roads have now been blocked off, making it difficult to reach remote villages in rural mountainous areas that were likely impacted the most by the quake. 

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According to Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior, the death toll currently is at 2,901 with 5,530 individuals injured in the nation’s deadliest earthquake since 1960.

Vehicles with rescue supplies are continuously making there way towards roads in the mountains to deliver food and tents to survivors while search teams continue to search through rubble for more people. 

Stefanie Dekker, a reporter for Al Jazeera, reported from the village of Imi N’Tala that the situation is dire:

“The village is completely flattened and devastated. The stench of death is everywhere. There are still at least 40 bodies under the rubble. Massive chunks of the mountain came down, smashing into these villages. Entire families have been wiped out.”

“One man was pointing at his home. There was a white door that remained standing, and he was telling us that that was the door to his house. He started crying about how he ran out of the door and everything collapsed around him. He lost both his sons and his wife. He was screaming because he saw his wife’s abaya under the rubble. It was heartbreaking,” Dekker said.

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“The problem is the access to these places. There are narrow, winding roads. There are still many places that they have not been able to reach.”

Search and rescue teams from Qatar, the United Kingdom, Spain, and the United Arab emirates have been stationed throughout Morocco working with emergency teams, the military, and other officials. 

The United States and United Nations have also sent teams to the nation to help assess the damage and collaborate on response efforts. 

Head of the Menara district in Marrakesh, Abdel Wahed Chafiki, said “it is difficult to determine the total number of victims. The rugged mountainous terrain where the earthquake struck is making it a challenge to get to victims, but local authorities are continuing their relief efforts and providing assistance.”

“The army is doing [its] job to bring these people out of the ground, but also it’s very, very difficult to reach these places, so you can imagine that there is no food, but also there’s no blankets or beds where people can sleep,” said Errachid Montassir, an activist and humanitarian worker, who has been traveling with doctors to remote villages in the Atlas Mountains.

Rebuilding all that has been damaged, lost, and destroyed is going to be a long journey, as Morocco’s economy was already on the decline before the earthquake due to a lack of tourism.


Turkey And Syria Facing Years Of Rebuilding Following 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake 

Turkey and Syria are currently enduring the aftermath of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that left both nations in complete devastation. 

“We’ve done a bit of mapping of the size of the affected area, it’s the size of France,” said the director of disasters, climate, and crises at the International Federation of the Red Cross, Caroline Holt, to CNN.

“We haven’t yet seen the full extent of the damage and of the humanitarian crisis unfolding before our eyes,” said Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Security-General. 

The World Health Organization estimated up to 23 million people could be impacted by the disaster. More than 100 aftershocks have been recorded within a day and a half following the initial earthquake, one of which had a magnitude of 7.5.

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As of last Friday more than 22,000 deaths have been reported. While Turkey has experienced earthquakes in the past, citizens are angry that the government doesn’t have a more solid preparation plan in place that could’ve protected more people.

Ajay Chhibber, an economist who was World Bank director for Turkey, told CNN that “it’s like a bad movie [that’s] coming back again. Similar to this week’s event, a past 1999 earthquake tremor struck in the early hours but it occurred in the country’s northwest – a densely populated area closer to Istanbul. It lasted around 45 seconds, leaving more than 17,000 dead and an estimated 500,000 people homeless.”

More than 6,000 buildings have collapsed. Chhibber stated that “Turkey is capable of moving very, very swiftly if they can get their act together on this.”

Ismail Baris, professor of social work at Istanbul’s Uskudar University and former mayor of Golcuk at the time of the quake, told CNN that “in addition to the collapsed private and public buildings, the city’s water transport pipes, water supply network, sewage system [and] storm water system were completely destroyed, as well as 80% of the city’s roads.”

“Across the border in Syria, rebuilding efforts will be even more complicated. Syrians face“nightmares on top of nightmares, and the World Food Program has described the situation in the northwest of the country as a catastrophe on top of catastrophe,” Guterres warned this past weekend.

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“We have the perfect humanitarian storm in Syria,” said Caroline Holt.

Pre-earthquake, the UN has estimated that more than 4 million people were already dependent on humanitarian aid due to the civil war which has been impacting Syria since 2011. “After 12 years of constant pain, suffering and living in a vulnerable context, your ability to withstand – especially in winter – the harsh conditions that you’re facing [is diminished],” Holt told CNN.

“The conflict – or conflicts – are much worse in that area of Syria than in that area of Turkey,” said Ilan Kelman, professor of disasters and health at University College London. 

“While Turkey has political problems of its own, they do have a comparatively strong government and comparatively strong military in comparison to Syria, which is at war. Turkey also has greater pre-earthquake resources. Neither country is especially rich, but Turkey at least has that baseline where they’ve not been in a major conflict dividing the country for 12 years. They have not been isolated through sanctions,” Kelman said.

“While disasters like this wreak havoc, they also create opportunities to prevent such havoc being wrought again. There is a man-made part of every natural disaster,” according to Chhibber.

“We do have examples where people have taken the opportunity to say there has been a disaster, and we want to help people, so let’s try to reconstruct in such a way that we are supporting peace. At the moment, I do not see either government responding in that way, and I do not see the world responding in that way,” Kelman said.


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A Tsunami From 1964 Is Causing The Spread Of A Deadly Disease

A major earthquake that took place in Alaska in 1964 is supposedly causing the spread of a deadly disease brought on by fungus that washed to shore during Tsunami’s that were induced by the earthquake. 

The Great Alaskan Earthquake of 1964 reached a 9.2 magnitude, which induced a series of massive tsunami’s all along the Alaskan coast that also hit Vancouver Island, and parts of both Oregon and Washington. The water from the Tsunami’s brought fungus onto land where it permeated and developed in trees and any other surviving plant life. 

“We propose that Cryptococcus gattii (C. gattii, the fungus) may have lost much of its human-infecting capacity when it was living in the seawater. But then, when it got to land, amoebas and other soil organisms worked on it for three decades or so until new C. gattii variants arose that were much more pathogenic to animals and people,” said Dr Arturo Casadevall, from Johns Hopkins University in an interview with the BBC

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As the fungus laid dormant in the botanical life in Alaska it was able to use the surrounding and recovering environment to develop and mutate into a deadly substance that is now affecting people after five decades. The fungus induced illness first appeared in 1999 and since has caused 300 cases of pneumonia like illness; 10% of the cases have been deadly. 

The C. gattii pathogen is most common in areas such as parts of Europe, Africa, Brazil, and Australia, mainly coastal areas. Researchers believe the fungus is transported with the water that moves around large shipping boats, however, the fungus doesn’t greatly affect the humans in these areas because it rarely makes it out of the water and when it does, it still takes decades to mutate into the type of fungus affecting those in Alaska. 

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When cases first began appearing in 1999, scientists and doctors alike were left puzzled as to how a fungal infection to the magnitude that they were seeing, spread so intensely. After researching the forest and analyzing the history of the area, the earthquake tsunami power duo, they came to the conclusion that the 1964 Alaskan earthquake was most likely responsible. Tsunami’s are known to carry dangerous fungal spores that normally stay harmless at the bottom of the ocean. These fungal spores can carry pathogens that affect the human body like an invasive skin or lung infection when mutated. 

Scientists have been able to get a greater control over this fungus in the Alaskan areas now, but their concerns have not gone away. Researchers are worried about other areas of the world that have more recently seen Tsunami’s as a result of massive earthquakes, such as Japan in 2011 or Indonesia in 2004. The first time around it took 50 years for the fungus to become a real problem, these cataclysmic events have occurred within the past 15 years, so there’s a long way to go. 

“The big new idea here is that tsunamis may be a significant mechanism by which pathogens spread from oceans and estuarial rivers onto land and then eventually to wildlife and humans. If this hypothesis is correct, then we may eventually see similar outbreaks of C. gattii or similar fungi, in areas inundated by the 2004 Indonesian tsunami or the Japanese one in 2011,”  said Dr Casadevall.