Japan marks 26th anniversary of Kobe earthquake amid Covid-19 restrictions
Tokyo, Jan 17 (efe-epa).- Japan on Sunday remembered the more than 6,400 people killed by the 1995 Kobe earthquake on its 26th anniversary and amid restrictions to curb the Covid-19 epidemic.
The Japanese port city hosted several events in tribute to the victims, although due to the state of emergency active across much of Japan to curb the coronavirus epidemic, attendance was limited and the occasion was on a smaller scale than previous years.
Residents and families of the victims observed a minute of silence at 5.46 am (20:46 GMT on Saturday), the exact time that the magnitude-6.9 tremor, also known as the Great Hanshin Earthquake, struck at a depth of 22 kilometers on Jan. 17, 1995.
Kobe Park was the scene of a memorial event attended by thousands of citizens and local political representatives, and in which bamboo lanterns were arranged to form the figures “1.17,” the date of the catastrophe.
However, the attendance of people placing lanterns was staggered from noon on Saturday to avoid large crowds, a decision of the local authorities.
Some 2,500 people participated in one of the main memorial events held in Kobe Park, according to the state broadcaster NHK, a figure well below the more than 10,000 who were present in previous years.
The earthquake surprised the region at a time when most citizens were still asleep, and caused fires and the collapse of numerous buildings where many residents became trapped.
In addition to the 6,434 deaths, the earthquake with its epicenter on the island of Awaji, about 20 kilometers from Kobe, left 40,000 injured and damaged 640,000 buildings, including 100,000 homes that were completely destroyed, according to official data.
The Kobe earthquake was the most tragic in Japan in the 20th century after the Kanto earthquake, which in 1923 left more than 100,000 people dead in the country’s capital, Tokyo, and in surrounding areas. EFE-EPA