A timeline of Japan's devastating start to 2024

A timeline of Japan's devastating start to 2024
At least 82 dead, 80 missing in strong Japan quakes
Xinhua TV - Raw / VideoElephant

Japan was already reeling from a devastating earthquake when news broke of a plane crash at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Tuesday, killing five people.

On Wednesday, it suffered another tragedy, when three people were stabbed and taken to hospital in an attack on a Tokyo train on 3 January.

The three events couldn’t be more different, but they mark three days of appalling headlines for the east Asian country to ring in the beginning of 2024.

Japanese people will hope that for the rest of the year things can only get better. Here’s a timeline of what’s happened so far.

1 January

A 7.6-magnitude earthquake strikes Noto peninsula in western Japan on New Year’s Day, killing at least 82 people (as of 4 Jan).

The tremor triggered tsunami waves more than a metre high, levelled houses and tore apart roads, impeding rescue workers’ attempts to help those affected.

More than 31,800 people were forced into shelters, the government said. Japanese media reports said tens of thousands of homes had been destroyed and by Thursday (December 4) it was confirmed that the death toll had risen to 81.

Satellite images showed extensive damage in coastal areas, revealing destroyed buildings and capsized boats.

2 January

A Japan Airlines plane bursts into flames after colliding with another smaller aircraft on the runway at Tokyo’s Haneda airport.

Incredibly, all 379 people on board the jet escaped before the plane was completely engulfed in flames that took more than six hours to extinguish. However, five of the six crew of the other aircraft were killed.

It turned out the smaller plane belonged to the Japan Coast Guard, and had been on its way to deliver aid to earthquake hit regions on the west coast.

Meanwhile, earthquake rescue attempts are further hampered by falling temperatures and heavy rain in Ishikawa prefecture, one of the worst-hit regions.

As aid workers and canine units combed through the wreckage, more aftershocks hit the region, causing more difficulty for rescuers.

3 January

More bad news, as three men are injured in a stabbing incident on a Tokyo train and taken to hospital.

A woman was reported to be wielding a knife on the train, which was on one of the busiest transport routes in the city, Japanese police said.

The woman was taken into custody and the condition of the three injured men was unknown, the spokesperson said.

Kyodo news agency later reported that none of the victims had suffered life-threatening injuries.

Meanwhile, Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida says many more people needed rescuing from the aftermath of the earthquake.

“There continue to be many reports of people who need rescue. We must keep in mind that this is a race against time and continue to put all our labour into rescue efforts, with lifesaving as our top priority.”

After 72 hours, the chances of finding people alive drops substantially, according to aid experts.

In Suzu, a town of about 13,000 people near the quake's epicentre, 90 per cent of houses may have been destroyed.

“Hardly any of the homes are standing. They are either partially or totally destroyed,” said Suzu’s mayor Masuhiro Izumiya.

Air crash investigators try to unpick what went wrong at Haneda airport.

Japanese authorities said on Wednesday the passenger jet had been given permission to land, but the smaller plane had not been cleared for take-off, based on the transcripts.

The Coast Guard pilot said after the crash that he had been given permission to enter the runway, Coast Guard officials have said.

Transcripts released showed air traffic control ordering the Coast Guard plane to proceed to a holding point near the runway minutes before the crash.

Police are also looking into possible professional negligence in the case, according to media reports.

Japan Airlines said it expected losses of more than $100m as a result of the incident.

How to join the indy100's free WhatsApp channel

Sign up to our free indy100 weekly newsletter

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)