Monday, May 16, 2016

7th week in Japan -- 1st area; Earthquake status

From Kirsten's mom:  For those of you who might be wondering, Kirsten is fine, as are all the other missionaries.  I was so busy today, I didn't read the news, and didn't even know about the earthquake until I got the email from the Japan Tokyo mission office (gosh, I love those people for keeping the parents informed!)

There was a 5.6 earthquake last night (Japan local time), felt in the southern Ibaraki Prefecture, and the Tokyo, and Saitama Prefectures (Kirsten is in the Prefecture [county] of Saitama).   From what I understand, there was a lot of swaying going on; some people reported things coming off shelves, furniture moving, some elevators stopped, and the Metro stopped; some nuclear plants were shut down or checked as a precaution.  There continue to be smaller aftershocks in the 4 range.   In the picture below, the bigger earthquake (5.6 mag) is the orange ring (and Okegawa is in the orange ring)  The yellow and light green circles are more recent quakes (smaller magnitude also) and Okegawa is possibly *not* in those rings, or maybe on the very outer edge.

HOWEVER, one detail I forgot about momentarily:  I don't know where Kirsten was at the time.   There was an emergency transfer yesterday, in the evening, and Kirsten traveled into Tokyo I believe, probably on the Metro, because her companion Sister Riggs, got transferred in order to accomodate a sick missionary sister that had to be moved to a location closer to medical help. Sister Riggs also got a change of assignment along with her new location, in that she is now a Sister Trainer over several areas of the mission.   Kirsten returned to Okegawa and will be a senior type companion while her new companion Sister B_____ gets familiar with the Okegawa area. 

The earthquake occurred at 5/16/2016  9:23pm local time.   I am trying to imagine Kirsten's response.  I don't know if she has ever really felt an earthquake before, unless it was a very very slight rolling.
She probably felt some panic at first.  When the earth first starts shaking, one wonders for a moment how strong the shaking will get as the seconds tick.   I hope she isn't in a big earthquake like the one that happened in Southern Japan last month.   I guess we'll hear next week a lot more about the transfer and the ground moving.

We are studying Japanese earthquakes a bit, and have found out that Japan uses an early earthquake warning system (gives a few seconds, maybe a minute warning, depending on how close a person is to the epicenter.  Japan has lots of seismic monitoring stations.   Casualties have gone down with the warning system in place.   Also most of the earthquakes are on the coast, or off-coast, or at islands.   Being inland will possibly lessen some of the risk.   

If you want to hear the warning chime (for the earthquake warning system), go to:    
The site is in Japanese, but look on the page *currently in the lower right side of the page* for the thick bright green bar with the audio symbol on it.  Click that, and it will play the earthquake warning chime.

Signing off, K-Mom

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