At least 64 people were killed in the powerful earthquake that jolted the Noto Peninsula and surrounding areas in central Japan, with ongoing difficulties in search and rescue operations due to debris and blocked roads.

Japan's Kyodo News explained that the full extent of the disaster is still unknown, adding that the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) warned of potential mudslides and intermittent rain through Thursday in the affected areas in the prefecture.

Japan's Self-Defense Forces were set to use helicopters to deliver supplies to cut-off areas, with local authorities asking the central government to send Self-Defense Forces (SDF) personnel for a disaster relief mission.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a press conference on Wednesday that the government had decided to increase the number of SDF members working in the disaster-stricken region from 1,000 at present to 2,000.

The earthquake was centered around 30 km east-northeast of Wajima with a provisional depth of 16 km and registered the highest level of 7 on Japan's seismic intensity scale, according to the JMA. (QNA)
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