Kumamoto residents observed a moment of silence Tuesday to mark the fourth month since the April quake that struck wide areas of Kyushu, killing 72 people in the prefecture.

"Many people still have to put up with inconvenience in their everyday lives, but the town is rebuilding step by step," Kashima Mayor Yasuomi Araki said during a memorial ceremony. "We will aim for a disaster-resistant town that is comfortable to live in."

Three residents of Kashima were crushed to death under flattened houses in the April quake, while a fourth victim died days later in a hospital.

"My father was a hard worker and enjoyed many hobbies. Four months have flown by, but it hasn't seemed real to me," said Kenzo Tomioka, 53, who lost his father Osho Tomioka, 84, in the quake.

The strongest quake in Japan since March 2011 shook Kumamoto Prefecture on the evening of April 14, registering the maximum 7 on the Japanese seismic scale. Another major quake of similar scale struck in the early hours of April 16. The Meteorological Agency later determined the second one as the main quake.

Of the 72 victims, 50 were killed instantly, while 17 died of poor health while seeking shelter at local emergency centers, according to local authorities. Five people who died in mudslides triggered by heavy rain in June have been counted as secondary deaths from the April quake.

During the four months since the quake, public memorial services have been organized in the hardest-hit communities, including the town of Mashiki and the villages of Nishihara and Minamiaso.