The death toll from a massive earthquake that struck Japan on New Years Day rose to 62 on Wednesday as authorities rushed to bring aid to survivors facing freezing temperatures and heavy rain forecast for later in the day.

The quake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.6 struck the Noto peninsula on Monday afternoon, levelling houses and cutting off remote areas from much-needed aid.

Heavy rains were forecast in the quake-hit areas on Wednesday raising fears of landslides, authorities said, in what could further hinder efforts to free many more trapped under rubble.

Severed roads, damaged infrastructure, and the remote location of the hardest-hit areas have complicated rescue efforts, and the full extent of damage and casualties remains unclear two days after the quake.

In Suzu, a town of just over 5,000 households near the quake’s epicentre, authorities have been unable to respond to 72 calls for help, according to its mayor Masuhiro Izumiya.

Authorities confirmed 62 deaths so far, up from 55 late on Tuesday, making the earthquake the deadliest in Japan since at least 2016.

“It’s been over 40 hours since the initial quake. This is a battle against time, and I believe now is a crucial moment in that battle,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a news conference held after a disaster response meeting on Wednesday.

The government opened a sea route to deliver aid and some larger trucks are now able to reach some of the hardest-hit areas, Kishida said.

Mitsuru Kida, 74, a survivor of the earthquake who lives in hard-hit Wajima city, feared a return to life as usual will be time-consuming process.

“The road conditions are terrible. This is the first time the roads have been damaged this badly,” he said at a community building which had been turned into a make-shift evacuation centre.

“I have an impression that most people have yet to regain energy to stand up again at the moment,” he added.

Smaller quakes continue to hit the peninsula. Firefighters searching for survivors in the rubble of a partially collapsed building were seen rushing out to safety as an earthquake warning alarm sounded before noon on Wednesday, according to footage broadcast by public broadcaster NHK.

FACTBOX: Major earthquakes in Japan since Kobe disaster of 1995

On Jan. 16, 1995, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 hit central Japan, devastating the western port city of Kobe. The worst earthquake to hit the country in 50 years killed more than 6,400 and caused an estimated $100 billion in damage.

– On Oct. 23, 2004, a 6.8 magnitude quake struck the Niigata region, about 250 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, killing 65 people and injuring 3,000.

– On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck northeast Japan, killing nearly 20,000 people and causing a meltdown in Fukushima, leading to the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

On April 16, 2016, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck in Kumamoto on the southern island of Japan, killing more than 220 people.

– On June 18, 2018, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake in Osaka, Japan’s second-biggest metropolis, killed four people, injured hundreds more and halted factory lines in an industrial area.

– On Sept. 6, 2018, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake paralysed Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, killing at least seven people, triggering landslides and knocking out power to its 5.3 million residents.

– On Feb. 13, 2021, a 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Fukushima in eastern Japan, injuring dozens of people and triggering widespread power outages.

– On March 16, 2022, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake jolted the coast off Fukushima again, leaving two dead and 94 injured and reviving memories of the quake and tsunami that crippled the same region just over a decade earlier.