Japan sharply revises down quake missing

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Japanese authorities sharply revised downwards on Tuesday the number of people unaccounted for following a major Jan. 1 quake, while announcing a new death toll of 200.

The 7.5-magnitude quake flattened buildings, caused fires and knocked out infrastructure on the Noto Peninsula on Japan’s main island Honshu just as families were celebrating New Year’s Day.

Eight days later thousands of rescuers were on Tuesday battling blocked roads and poor weather to clear the wreckage as well as reach almost 3,500 people still stuck in isolated communities.

Figures released by Ishikawa regional authorities on Tuesday showed that 120 people remained unaccounted for while 180 were now confirmed as dead, up from 168 a day earlier.

On Monday authorities had more than tripled the number of missing to 323 after central databases were updated, with most of the rise related to badly-hit Wajima.

But since then “many families let us know that they were able to confirm safety of the persons (on the list),” Ishikawa official Hayato Yachi told AFP.

With heavy snow in places complicating relief efforts, as of Monday almost 30,000 people were living in some 400 government shelters, some of which were packed and struggling to provide adequate food, water and heating.

Almost 60,000 households were without running water and 15,600 had no electricity supply.

Road conditions have been worsened by days of rain that have contributed to an estimated 1,000 landslides.

At a daily disaster-relief government meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida instructed ministers to “make efforts of resolving the state of isolation (of communities) and continue tenacious rescue activities”.

Kishida also urged secondary evacuations to other regions outside the quake-hit area, top government spokesman Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters.

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