A woman in her nineties was recovered alive from the rubble of the Japan earthquake Earthquake news

The 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck on New Year's Day, causing severe damage to local communities on the Noto Peninsula.

A woman in her nineties was pulled alive from the rubble of a house in western Japan, 124 hours after the region was hit by a strong earthquake that killed at least 126 people.

A resident of Suzhou, located on the northern tip of the hard-hit Noto Peninsula, survived more than five days after the 7.6-magnitude quake.

News footage broadcast nationally showed rescue workers wearing helmets covering the area with blue plastic, but the woman was not visible. Her condition was unclear.

The chances of survival decrease sharply after the first 72 hours. About 200 people are still missing, according to the authorities.

Among the 126 dead was a 5-year-old child who was recovering from injuries he sustained when boiling water was poured on him during the earthquake. His condition suddenly worsened and he died on Friday, according to authorities in Ishikawa Prefecture, which includes the Noto Peninsula.

Most of the deaths recorded so far have occurred in the city of Wajima, which is also located in the north of the peninsula and was the site of a massive fire, and in Suzu. More than 500 people were injured, at least 27 of them in serious condition.

The earthquake devastated some communities on the Noto Peninsula [Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP]

In Suzhou, where dozens of homes were reduced to rubble, a dog barked as an AFP team filmed the clean-up process, indicating a grim discovery.

“Training disaster rescue dogs begins with something like a game of hide and seek,” dog trainer Masayo Kikuchi told the news agency.

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

Houses containing any deaths discovered are marked and left alone so that the coroner can attend with relatives to identify the body.

“really difficult”

Continued aftershocks threatened to bury more homes and close roads deemed essential for relief shipments. With rain and snow forecast for Sunday, officials warned that roads already damaged and cracked by the quake could collapse completely.

For Shiro Kokoda, 76, the house he grew up in in Wajima survived, but a nearby temple caught fire, and he was still searching for his friends in evacuation centers.

“It was really hard,” he said.

Along Japan's coast, electricity was gradually restored but water remained scarce.

Thousands of soldiers transported water, food and medicine by air in trucks to more than 30,000 people who were evacuated to halls, schools and other facilities.

The nationally circulated Yomiuri newspaper reported that its aerial study identified more than 100 landslides in the area, some of which were blocking main roads.

Some communities, such as the tsunami-hit coastal community of Shiromaru, are still waiting for help.

A couple walking in the distance.  The road they are walking on is full of rubble and debris
The tsunami swept through the main street of Shiromaru, which is home to about 100 people [Philip Fong/ AFP]

The wave, said to be several meters high, created a tangled mess of wooden, metal and plastic debris.

“The tsunami came from Shiromaru Bay across the river, and then spread across the street,” said Toshio Sakashita, a resident of the village of about 100 people.

“We have not received any public support here. Look, the main street is still blocked by untouched rubble.”

“We can't live in our house anymore,” 82-year-old Yukio Teraoka said as he and his wife removed heavy, wet sand from their destroyed home.

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