Kumamoto Marks 1st Anniversary of Deadly Earthquakes

Good morning everyone,

It's looking like we can expect rain for most of the day today and it'll be heavy at times. It should clear up tomorrow and Wednesday before we see rain again towards the end of the week. It will remain warm with daytime highs somewhere between 21C and 24C all week.

Memorial services were held Sunday in the southwestern Japan prefecture of Kumamoto for the victims of a magnitude-7.3 earthquake that devastated the area a year ago following another powerful jolt some 28 hours before.

A series of strong earthquakes rattled the southwestern Japan region last year, with the first registering magnitude 6.5 on April 14, derailing Kyushu shinkansen bullet train cars.

Two days later, a more powerful quake hit the region, flattening homes in Kumamoto and Oita prefectures. Both quakes measured a maximum 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale.

The direct death toll from the quakes totaled 50, while 170 people have died in Kumamoto and neighboring Oita Prefecture due to causes indirectly linked to the disaster.

In the village of Minamiaso, a massive land slide triggered by the second quake tore down an arch bridge and caused tremendous damage to the infrastructure of the area.

Among the victims, Hikaru Yamato, a 22-year-old student at Kumamoto Gakuen University, went missing after his vehicle was engulfed by the land slide. His body was found in his wrecked car some 400 meters downstream from the collapsed bridge about four months later. Yamato was caught in the land slide caused by the second quake on the way back home after delivering aid supplies to his friends affected by the first powerful quake in Kumamoto city.

The village held a memorial ceremony and several hundred participants offered silent prayers for the victims. About 120 faculty members and students also offered condolences at Tokai University’s Minamiaso campus.  Three Tokai University students died when they were trapped by a flattened apartment. An earth fissure was found on the premises of the university campus after the quakes and students are now studying at a campus in Kumamoto city, with no specific timetable for the reconstruction of the campus in sight.

According to a Kumamoto prefectural government estimate, over 47,000 people had yet to return to their homes as of the end of March.

It's sad that so many people continue to be affected by a disaster that occurred one year ago, please keep them in your thoughts today.

Have a great day!

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