Kobe marks 18th anniversary of killer quake, backs Tohoku victims

Kyodo

The city of Kobe and surrounding areas on Thursday marked the 18th anniversary of the magnitude 7.3 earthquake that resulted in the loss of 6,434 lives in 1995.

Many people, including those who lost loved ones in the devastating March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region, gathered at a park in central Kobe and elsewhere to offer silent prayers at 5:46 a.m., the exact moment when the Great Hanshin Earthquake hit the major port city.

At a memorial service at the park, thousands of bamboo lanterns spelling “1.17″ were lit.

Keiko Fujimoto, 55, who lost her 10-year-old daughter, Mana, in the Kobe quake, delivered a eulogy.

“Everything seems to have happened just yesterday. With a determination not to forget, I want to pass on the stories of that day,” she said.

Saki Ito, 14, who participated in the Kobe event from tsunami-hit Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, said, “I would like us to have the power to recover that Kobe had.”

Those who did not experience the 1995 quake accounted for more than 40 percent of Kobe’s population last year.

“We have to pass on the experiences and lessons learned through our recovery to future generations,” Kobe Mayor Tatsuo Yada said.

Yada also said Kobe will keep supporting the recovery in Tohoku by “connecting the hearts” of those who were affected by the quakes, and by providing material and human aid.