11 March 2011 – Japan’s Biggest Earthquake

14 Mar

Damaged to houses is widespread

Friday 11th March 2011 will long be remembered as one of the worst in Japan’s history. After living in Japan and travelling here back and forth many times, earthquakes are a part of daily life. Not that people are blasé about them, but you always assume that they will fade away. Last Friday I happened to be in an upstairs bedroom at our house in Ibaraki prefecture, which is in the northeastern part of the Kantō region, about 55 odd km’s from Tokyo. This quake started and the shaking just continued and grew stronger and stronger. The groan of the quake was loud. I knew this was major. Ceiling lights falling, books and anything on shelving getting tossed around, TV’s and furnture being jolted like toys, the shattering sound of glasses and bottles  from kitchen cabinets being smashed. ‘Violent and frightening’. They are the words I would use to describe the massive earthquake. I darted outside – not easy to do when it feels like you’re on a skateboard, and could hear the rooms being shaken as I exited. All rooms look like they’ve been turned upside down. Relatively speaking, this area got off lightly compared to folks elsewhere. There is damage all around, specifically to house roofing, to roadwork, and most fencing constructed of stone or granite was obviously tossed around. We waited out the dying hours of light on Friday evening sitting in a vehicle away from possible falling objects. The car would regularly be rocked by the shaking earth underneath. The area was eerily quiet as the Friday evening drew to a close and was engulfed in darkness. No electricity, no water, no phones. We had a kit ready, like many people do and the ‘wind-up’ torch/radio was a god-send. So too the candles. In this superfast, technological world we live in, those two items were appreciated. I could hear sirens through the evening but it was the continuing aftershocks all through the night which were haunting. You just never know if it’s time to run again or will it fade. I counted at least twenty, and they are still occurring frequently, even as I compose this article in the dead of this cold early, Monday morning. There was a queue for water which I attended on the Saturday morning, and one of the roads had a massive split from the quake. I took a drive yesterday and saw long lines of cars waiting for fuel and grocery stores packed with people buying supplies. The emergency services have issued a warning that a magnitude seven earthquake will strike within the next couple of days. Like many residents,

locals queue for water at the city office

sleep does not come easy, but when it does I bed down fully clothed so that if I have to move, it is fast. Split seconds count when it’s the real deal. What’s that saying about cats and nine lives ? I reckon this cat – like so many others here in Japan, used up one of em last Friday at 2:46PM. There are millions of people here who have lost everything, and my thoughts are with those people and those affected by this tragedy.




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