Kumamoto Earthquake: Update on Disaster Situation and What We Can Do Now
Since the earthquake struck on the night of April 14th 2016, the tremors are still continuing in Kumamoto. We have put together an update on the situation of disaster and the local people as well as how we can offer our support. *All data in this article is as of now. Photo: http://news.yahoo.co.jp/
The Kumamoto Earthquake
The Kumamoto Earthquake started around 9:30 PM of April 14th 2016 with an earthquake of Magnitude 6.5 (Japanese seismic scale level 7) in Mashiki of Kumamoto Prefecture. The seismic activity that follows has had the intensity of about high 5s to low 7 on the Japanese seismic scale. The main shock was the huge earthquake with intensity of magnitude 7.3 that hit Minami Aso of Kumamoto Prefecture. The areas of Mashiki and Minami Aso of Kumamoto Prefecture are raised as areas that are particularly hard hit with the disaster. From the 17th and onward, there have not been any strong earthquakes with larger intensity than level 5 (Japanese seismic scale). The total number of earthquakes that occurred up until 4 PM on the 18th of level 1 or above is over 570. As of today, the 18th, the seismic activity is still going on, and there have been warnings issued for the local residents to take any necessary precautions. Source: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/
Disaster Situation and Current Situation
As of today, the 18th there have been 43 deaths, over 200 heavily injured and about 110,000 living in shelters. The biggest issues they are facing right now is the limited relief supplies such as water, food and blankets. They have not reached each and individual evacuee. This is due to the relief supplies being slowly depleted and the traffic network being cut off due to the streets being destroyed. The relief supplies that have been collected from all over Japan cannot be delivered efficiently to the shelters. Water supplies, power and gas have not been restored either.
Even when the relief supplies were delivered, they have faced situations where supplies were limited and people had to wait many hours to receive just a small amount of food. Given this situation, there have been refugees that have written out the letters SOS and ask for water, paper (toilet paper) and bread (food).
Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in Operation
The Sendai Power Plant that is in Kagoshima Prefecture, located next to Kumamoto Prefecture is still in operation. There are various opinions toward this given what occurred during the East Japan Earthquake. The standard Gal unit to stop operations for a nuclear plant is 160 Gal units. The explanation offered is that the tremor from the current earthquake is 8.6 Gal, not significant enough to stop operations of the plant. An additional announcement that was released was that the other nuclear power plants that are in the Kyushu Area are not in operation and the nuclear fuel should be cooled enough.
Destruction of Kumamoto Castle and Aso Shrine
Stone Walls of Kumamoto Castle, http://www.sankei.com/
The Kumamoto Earthquake not only affected the houses of the local residents but also some historical architecture of Japan. The Kumamoto Castle, a castle with fans both domestically and internationally due to its status of being one of the Top 3 Castles of Japan saw damage to its stone walls. The Aso Shrine, with a deep history has been completely destroyed.
Effects to the Aso San Mountain
The active volcanic mountain Aso San Mountain in Kumamoto Prefecture has also been an object of concern. There has however been an announcement that the current Aso San Mountain has not reached any levels of concern and should not be a problem. No one knows for sure how the situation may change though.
What We Can Do Now
In Kumamoto City and other areas, there were plans to set up a disaster volunteer center on the 16th to accommodate teams of supporters from various areas. This however, has been postponed. The reason is because as explained above, the roads around the affected areas have collapsed and the traffic network has been cut off. They were not able to set up the infrastructure to accept volunteers. As of now, they are only recruiting volunteer staff. In order to prevent secondary disaster from volunteer staff going to the site and getting injured, they are encouraging people to not travel to the site as of yet.
What we can do instead to offer support for the local people is to send relief supplies or to donate relief funds. The below are related links.
Yahoo Net Bokin (Yahoo Net Donation): http://donation.yahoo.co.jp/detail/1630023/
Recruiting Volunteer Staff: http://www.city.kumamoto.jp/hpkiji/pub/detail.aspx?c_id=5&id=12533
Shipping and Other Instructions for Relief Supplies: http://www.city.kumamoto.jp/hpkiji/pub/detail.aspx?c_id=5&type=top&id=12513