Tuesday, August 16, 2005



AND I THOUGHT I was sick this morning!! I sensed something was wrong...very wrong...yet I couldn't place it. Then came the flashing news on the TV screen that says it all: there is another EARTHQUAKE in northern HONSHU [the main island of Japan; the biggest].

EARTHQUAKES [JISHIN] are common in the Land of the Rising Sun. EVERYDAY, reports following the weather forecasts always relay updates on Earthquakes: the magnitude, the epicenter, blah-blah-blah... Goodness!!

THE GREAT KANTO EARTHQUAKE [dubbed so because it happened in the KANTO Region, which comprises TOKYO and outlying cities/municipalities] in 1923 wrecked havoc in properties and killed thousands. It left a lot more people homeless in the process.

THIS HAS MADE government officials focus on DISASTER-PREVENTION PROGRAMS. Since then, Japan has made leaps and instituted preparations to predict future earthquakes, plan programs and systemize the evacuation of residents rendered homeless by these and similar disasters.

HIGH-TECHNOLOGY gives no assurance that calamities of great magnitude be prevented. The least they can do is BE PREPARED ...JUST IN CASE.

CITIES AND MUNICIPALITIES have created programs patterned after the National Guidelines. Each year, on September 1, a DRILL ON EVACUATION and SAFETY PROCEDURES is conducted in every municipality/ city all over the nation. The Prime Minister, being the Leader-In-Charge, sees to the overall coordination from his central HQ.

AT AROUND 8 A.M. ...as soon as the siren is heard, all residents must go out in open fields and wait for further instruction. Since all cities/towns are equipped with PA system, communication is quite easy. EACH -KEN [PREFECTURE/PROVINCE] conduct RESCUE OPERATIONS, AIRLIFTING, RAPELLING, BASIC FIRST AID, AND MOBILIZATION.

HAVING FOCUSED on the Tokyo area, the Japanese were caught unawares when the HANSHIN EARTHQUAKE [ OSAKA-KOBE AREA] jolted one cold day in January more than ten and a half years ago. The devastation was so great, even the SHINKANSEN [BULLET TRAINS] RAILS swayed to one side. Again, thousands lost their lives, properties that reached several billions of yens either gone with the smoke or down to the gutters.

NIIGATA-KEN's earthquake made one realize that no amount of technology, nor prediction can withstand natural disasters. Caught on amateur camera was this patch of forestland going down the slopes and disappearing down...down...down....until all you see is a gap between the road in front and the other side. There is a gaping hole in-between. Pity those trapped inside the cars ahead!

TODAY's happening made me realize I haven't checked my bag out. The one supplied by the City Office. You see, each household is given a KNAPSACK which contains one plastic portable water container, a flashlight, aluminum sheet [for cold wintry nights] and a list of things needed for disasters. All the rest in the list must be completed by each household as assurance. It must be placed at the entrance or anywhere easily accessible.

Gotta bounce...better check my bag and replenish the water and the biscuits; put in fresh batteries and add an extra shirt, some face towels....


My headache lingers....am I feeling the aftershocks?


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