Sunday, August 31, 2008

JAPAN:Nationwide quake drill held on disaster preparedness day

TOKYO-The government held a nationwide quake drill Monday, with 590,000 people from 30 of Japan's 47 prefectures taking part under the assumption that a major quake had taken place in the morning. This year's drill comes after a series of disasters within and outside of Japan including powerful quakes in Japan's Iwate and Miyagi prefectures in June and China's Sichuan Province in May as well as flooding caused by torrential rain in Japan's Tokai region last week.In the government's drill, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura announced that a magnitude-8.6 earthquake centering on the southern coast of Wakayama hit a wide area covering Aichi, Mie, Wakayama and Kochi prefectures around 6:30 a.m.An emergency team consisting of bureau chiefs of the government ministries and agencies gathered at the prime minister's office to deal with the disaster. Then an extraordinary Cabinet meeting was held. Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said in a press conference that the government has set a disaster task force and called on people in Japan "to respond calmly to this major disaster and please cooperate to expedite rescuing people and put out the fires."The main drill site is in Kishiwada, Osaka Prefecture, where the Self- Defense Forces, police, firefighters and the Japan Coast Guard will participate in various exercises such as rescue operations in a train derailment and those involving collapsed buildings.This is first time that the government has conducted a quake drill assuming a magnitude-8 class earthquake centering on areas between the coasts of Shizuoka Prefecture and Shikoku. Such quakes occur in approximately 100-year cycles.The quakes in such regions last occurred in 1944 and 1946, raising the possibility that the next quake may take place within the first half of this century.Earthquake drills were also held in Shizuoka, Shizuoka Prefecture assuming a Tokai quake, and in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, simulating a metropolitan area quake.Japan's "disaster preparedness day" commemorates the Sept. 1, 1923, Great Kanto Earthquake, in which more than 140,000 people died or went missing in Tokyo and surrounding areas.
As in the days of Noah...

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