U.S. to deploy military helicopters for earthquake relief in Japan’s Noto Peninsula.

In response to the earthquake that struck Japan’s Noto Peninsula, the United States will deploy two military helicopters to aid relief efforts in the affected communities, according to the US Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel. The helicopters, identified as two Blackhawk helicopters, will complement Japan’s existing fleet and assist in transporting supplies and personnel to areas cut off by the disaster.

Relief operations are set to commence on Wednesday, as confirmed by Japan’s Minister of Defense, Minoru Kihara, during a press briefing. The earthquake on January 1 caused extensive damage, destroying roads that connected the Noto Peninsula to the rest of Japan. Evacuations by sea have proven challenging, necessitating air support to reach isolated and vulnerable individuals.

The US assistance is expected to scale up in the coming days, addressing the aftermath of the powerful quake that claimed over 220 lives and caused widespread destruction of homes and infrastructure. A source with knowledge of the plan emphasized the potential expansion of the relief efforts but requested anonymity.

The earthquake, Japan’s deadliest since 2016, has been complicated by strong aftershocks, hampering ongoing relief operations. Survivors, residing in evacuation centers, face additional challenges due to freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall in the affected region. The quake serves as a grim reminder of Japan’s vulnerability to seismic events, with the US military presence playing a crucial role in providing aid during previous disasters, including the 2011 earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear disaster.