FUKUOKA (Kyodo) Cities in Kyushu held emergency drills Monday, the first anniversary of a major earthquake in Fukuoka and neighboring prefectures that killed one person and injured more than 1,000.
Fukuoka’s Genkai Island, which was hit hard by the temblor, held a drill at 10:53 a.m., the exact time the quake struck last year. The scenario for the drill was that a quake with the same magnitude, 7.0, had hit the island.
Participants, including residents living in temporary housing off the island, practiced evacuating, extinguishing fires and transporting patients to the hospital.
Fisherman Nobuyoshi Nakamura, 52, said all of the island’s fishermen took the day off to take part in the drill.
“That earthquake should be a lesson for us to keep up our disaster awareness and preparedness,” he said.
Shoko Matsuzaki, 72, was taken from her home on a stretcher when last year’s quake struck. She participated in Monday’s drill in a wheelchair pushed by her husband.
“It’s difficult to evacuate in a wheelchair,” she said. “The streets need to be improved.”
Fukuoka Prefectural Police and local government officials held drills to practice summoning emergency officials and rescuing people from cars and buildings.
Last year’s magnitude 7.0 quake occurred in the sea off the city of Fukuoka on March 20. About 9,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed in the region, including Fukuoka, Saga and Nagasaki prefectures, forcing about 580 people in Fukuoka Prefecture — mostly residents of Genkai Island — to move to temporary housing, where many of them remain.
About 500 of the approximately 700 islanders live in temporary housing constructed on or outside the island.
Many homes are still covered with blue plastic tarps. While authorities have started tearing down some buildings as part of redevelopment efforts, some hillsides where landslides occurred remain untouched.
In contrast, for many people in downtown Fukuoka, the quake seems not to have left a strong impression.
In front of a building where dozens of window panes shattered and fell to the ground in the quake, a 20-year-old university student said, “I was surprised at the time, but I’d forgotten all about it.”