Kin of last confirmed victim of Kumamoto quakes mark second anniversary of disaster

JIJI

The family of the last confirmed victim of the powerful earthquakes that rocked Kumamoto Prefecture in 2016 marked the second anniversary of the main quake on Monday.

Takuya Yamato, 59, his wife, Shinobu, 50, arrived with their eldest son Shogo, 25, near the spot in the village of Minamiaso where the body of their younger son Hikaru, then 22, was found about four months after the disaster.

They offered prayers at around 1:25 a.m., the time when the main quake — which maxed out at 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale — struck two years ago.

“I’m sorry that I couldn’t find him early,” the father said. “I thought I would feel better after two years, but my feelings haven’t changed.”

When the main quake rocked the prefecture and nearby areas, Hikaru, then a university student, was driving to his home in Aso from his friend’s place in the city of Kumamoto.

His car was trapped in a landslide near the Aso Ohashi bridge, which collapsed during the temblor.

While authorities gave up searching for him the following month, his parents kept trying to find him and discovered his car crushed under rocks in a valley in late July that year. A body later recovered from the car was identified as Hikaru’s using DNA testing.