One of the most powerful earthquakes to rock the Kansai region in decades struck Osaka and neighboring prefectures Monday morning, leaving at least four people dead and more than 300 injured.
The earthquake, which had a magnitude of 6.1 and registered lower 6 on the Japanese intensity scale to 7, hit at 7:58 a.m. at a depth of about 13 km under northern Osaka, the Meteorological Agency said. No tsunami warning was issued.
After receiving e-mails and messages asking if I had been impacted by the earthquake, I thought I would write a quick update. I live a few kilometres away from the epicentre and so my apartment shook quite a bit; however, it did not sustain any damage. Most buildings in Japan are built to resist earthquakes – mine being one of them – and Japan has a well-developed response plan for natural disasters. I had previously put together an emergency pack, but have yet to use it. Supermarkets remain open and all utilities are running unaffected.
As of today (June 20th), there have been a few aftershocks, but nothing too serious. Given that it is rainy season in Japan, there is a heightened warning for landslides, but not in the area I live in. I also live outside the zone at risk of tsunamis.
My university was closed for 2 days while teams evaluated all of the buildings on all three campuses. Today, was the first day back with a regular class schedule and a lot of care is being taken to ensure students’ safety.
The Kansai region of Japan has not experienced any major earthquakes in quite some time. This served as a reminder that natural disasters can strike anywhere and without warning. Japan is very well prepared, but I also saw that there are a number of things that can be improved. For one, many international students are unable to get accurate information in languages other than Japanese. They also lack knowledge when it comes to dealing with the aftermath of earthquakes. I’m looking to work with the university to come up with solutions to better support students in these types of situations.
For now I am safe and will be taking precautions for the next few weeks. My condolences go out to all those who lost their lives and who were injured, and I hope that there is no further damage.