Death toll hits 98 in Japan quake

SUZU, Japan: Rescuers sifted through rubble Saturday (Jan 6) as focus turned to recovering bodies rather than finding survivors five days after a huge earthquake struck central Japan, with 98 people now confirmed killed.

The death toll from the New Year’s Day 7.5-magnitude quake was certain to rise, with 211 people in the Ishikawa region of Japan’s main Honshu island still unaccounted for, authorities said.

The work of thousands of rescue workers has been hampered by bad weather – snow was forecast for Sunday – and roads torn apart by gaping cracks and hit by fallen trees and rocks.

Two elderly women were pulled from the wreckage of their homes on Thursday, but since there has been no reason for cheer.

In Suzu, where dozens of homes lie in ruins, a dog barked while an AFP team filmed the clean-up operation on Friday, the signal of a grim discovery.

“Training for disaster rescue dogs begins with something similar to a game of hide-and-seek,” canine trainer Masayo Kikuchi told AFP.

“Finally they are trained to bark when seeing a person under the rubble.”

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