• Kyodo

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About 12,000 people participated Sunday in a drill in Miyagi Prefecture to test preparedness for a major earthquake, organizers said.

Taking part in the drill, conducted in Higashi-Matsushima, were police officers, firefighters and Self-Defense Forces personnel as well as local citizens, they said.

It was based on the assumption that an earthquake measuring upper 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 will occur off the prefecture’s coast.

The drill came after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake shook northeastern and eastern Japan on Aug. 16 with its focus off Miyagi, injuring nearly 100 people.

“I think this year’s drill was timely in that it comes just as people’s awareness of the need for disaster prevention increased,” an official said.

The latest quake was not judged to be the powerful temblor that experts have predicted will strike off Miyagi. A government forecast released in January indicated there is a 99 percent chance that a quake of around magnitude 7.5 will hit the Miyagi area within 30 years.

Quakes of a magnitude 7 or higher have occurred an average of once every 37 years on a fault line off the coast of Miyagi. Nine quakes of magnitude 6.4 or higher, including the latest one, have occurred along the coast of the prefecture since 1933.

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