Monday, 18 June 2018 marks the first time we experienced an earthquake, and it was one of the worst in the region in over a decade.
It was about eight o’clock in the morning and I was thinking of getting out of bed, when everything began to shake. The shaking did not last very long, but I was very much taken by surprise. It was incredibly noisy, even though I had earplugs in my ears. Hänsel was still lying in bed in his dorm in Kobe, when the earthquake decided to shake him awake. We both installed an app called JapanShelter which gives warnings regarding disasters taking place in Japan before coming here, but just when we needed it most, the information was reluctant to load. It soon appeared that an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 according to the Japan Meteorological Agency had hit Western Japan, with Takatsuki (Osaka Prefecture) as epicentre.
Belgium is fairly safe regarding natural disasters: we don’t have any volcanoes, no issues with tornado’s and also very, very few earthquakes. We mainly worry about fierce hailstorms, thunderstorms, unusual drought or whirlwinds. But in Japan, everyone is prepared for some kind of disaster. That much was clear when I arrived in April and noticed the emergency kits in the store of Nara Women’s University.
Despite the preparations, there were some casualties and many were wounded according to reports. One of the 4 deathly victims was a girl of 9, found under a wall of the school pool in Takatsuki that had collapsed. Today, I went to the supermarket and couldn’t help but notice the cracks in the walls as I passed by them. I wasn’t the only one replenishing my stocks: the store was flooded with people and while the shelves are usually carefully refilled, many things appeared to be out of stock. There was not a single bottle of water to be seen, as there is the risk of losing water (and gas) supply if any further earthquakes follow. Media warned for an even bigger earthquake that might follow later this week.
I can’t imagine what the impact of such an earthquake must have felt like in the northern part of Osaka Prefecture, where since yesterday already 30 aftershocks took place.