By Emmanuel Nduka
An aged woman in her 90s trapped for five days under rubble caused by a huge earthquake in central Japan was rescued against the odds on Sunday.
Her rescue came even as snow and storms were further complicating relief efforts.
Local authorities reported that at least 128 people died in the magnitude-7.5 tremor on New Year’s Day and its aftershocks — a toll that is sure to rise.
195 others are still reported missing.
After a destructive quake, hope of finding survivors usually fades three days after.
But an elderly woman spent five days under the wreckage of a collapsed house in the city of Suzu on the hard-hit Noto Peninsula before being saved on Saturday.
She was taken to hospital and was able to hold a conversation, according to public broadcaster NHK.
“Hang in there!” rescuers were heard calling to the woman in police footage from the rainy scene published by local media. “You’re gonna be OK!. Stay positive!” they shouted.
A Tokyo police spokesman confirmed to AFP that the rescue had been carried out by officers from Tokyo and Fukuoka, but could not give further details.
Early Sunday, cold rain, sleet and snow made the recovery efforts of thousands of police, troops and other rescuers even more challenging.
The bad weather could also worsen conditions for more than 30,000 people in 366 government shelters as of Saturday.
This is many communities on the remote peninsula have been cut off by damaged roads, with some of an estimated 1,000 landslides also blocking aid vehicles, delaying relief materials to reach areas suffering water and power outages.
Up to 20,000 households in the wider Ishikawa region remained without electricity on Sunday. More than 66,400 households were without water as of Saturday.
Japan experiences hundreds of earthquakes every year, though most cause no damage with strict building codes in place for more than four decades.