A police officer and a dog search a collapsed house following earthquakes in Wajima, Ishikawa prefecture. Image Credit: AP

WAJIMA, Japan: An elderly woman trapped in a house destroyed by a huge earthquake in central Japan was found and rescued by a search dog, the defence minister said on Thursday.

The dog, named Jennifer, is one of the specially trained canines deployed to the regions hardest hit by the magnitude-7.5 quake that struck on New Year’s Day.

They have joined thousands of troops and firefighters in the desperate search for survivors on the Sea of Japan coast.

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“The Self-Defence Forces had rescued 122 people by yesterday, including an elderly woman in a house in Wajima City, who was found and rescued by a search dog (Jennifer),” Defence Minister Minoru Kihara wrote on X.

“Today, which is a crucial day, the number of personnel will be increased to approximately 4,600,” he added.

At least 84 people have been confirmed dead after the earthquake and a series of strong aftershocks, with 79 others listed as missing by local authorities.

Hopes are fading for other successful rescues, however, as the third day of the desperate hunt draws to a close.

Monday’s earthquake toppled tall buildings and flattened homes, triggering major landslides and tsunami waves over one metre high.