you know, there are times when i wonder if i should start a forum instead of a fanblog like this. the good thing about a forum is that the platform is really more suitable and conducive for sharing and interaction by everyone. on a fanblog like this, although it’s not impossible for readers to have their share of voice, but the subsequent follow-up and exchanges are just harder to follow.
in fact, i was so serious about this forum idea that i’d spoken with tomato about it too. but her concern was whether we could make the time to manage the forum and to actually spend quality time to interact. yea, that’s exactly my concern too. if i were to start a forum but have no time to manage it, then there’s really no point too.
anyway, that’s not why i’m blogging today, and we can save that topic for another time.
now some of you might know that i run a A KIM HYUN JOONG FANSITE
that fansite has both a blog and a forum. on that forum, we’ve had pretty interesting exchanges and sometimes funny jokes too. in the wake of last friday’s earthquake, some of the girls there also started talking about it. i just want to share parts of i’d shared in THAT FORUM.
not meaning to sound cold or anything like that (although the extent of the damage to lives and properties is not yet ascertained), i think it’s a blessing that the extent of reported damage and death/injury tolls so far appears to be disproportionately small, relative to the magnitude and severity of the earthquake.
since we’re discussing earthquakes and all, will just share more of what i know and have read…
heard of the Ring of Fire?
according to WIKIPEDIA the pacific ring of fire (or sometimes just the ring of fire) is an area where large numbers of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the pacific ocean. in a 40,000 km horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and/or plate movements.
the ring of fire has 452 volcanoes and is home to over 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes. it is sometimes called the circum-Pacific belt or the circum-pacific seismic belt.
about 90% of the world’s earthquakes and 80% of the world’s largest earthquakes occur along the ring of fire. the next most seismic region (5–6% of earthquakes and 17% of the world’s largest earthquakes) is the alpide belt, which extends from java to sumatra through the himalayas, the mediterranean, and out into the atlantic. the mid-atlantic ridge is the third most prominent earthquake belt.
ten percent of the world’s active volcanoes are found in aapan, which lies in a zone of extreme crustal instability. they are formed by subduction of the pacific plate and the philippine sea plate. as many as 1,500 earthquakes are recorded yearly, and magnitudes of four to six on the richter scale are not uncommon. minor tremors occur almost daily in one part of the country or another, causing slight shaking of buildings.
major earthquakes occur infrequently; the most famous in the twentieth century were: the great kantō earthquake of 1923, in which 130,000 people died; and the great hanshin earthquake of 17 january 1995, in which 6,434 people died. On march 11, 2011 a magnitude 8.9 earthquake hit japan, the country’s biggest ever and the seventh largest on record, according to US geological survey data. undersea earthquakes also expose the Japanese coastline to danger from tsunamis.
for a rather clear write-up of ring of fire and also how friday’s earthquake happened, click HERE.
or, watch this for a quicker and visual explanation.
so we now know that japan is actually sitting at a very precarious position on the earth and it’s very very earthquake-prone. the good thing is… japan knows too and throughout the years, have taken various measures to ensure that japan is well-prepared to face earthquakes since they can’t possibly prevent earthquakes or move somewhere else…
some of you may know that japan has been referred to as the leader in preparedness when it comes to earthquakes. back in 1923, there was a huge earthquake in the kanto region that took away hundreds of thousands of lives, and collapsed countless buildings.
even now, people would sometimes talk about how they’re wary that a ‘kanto earthquake’ would repeat itself, and whether all these years of being prepared and all could see them through.
guess the nation was put to test on friday. and given the magnitude of the earthquake, many of us were actually surprised that the damage was not wider and more severe.
perhaps the heavens was being merciful, but i think the fact that japan had readied itself had alot to do with that. other than tsunami and other emergency warning systems, japan also has one of the strictest building codes in the world (in the face of earthquakes, at least). not satisfied to just be good enough, japan has progressively improved on its framework, even making significant changes to building laws in 1979 and 2000.
with japan’s rigorous earthquake building codes, hence making its buildings more earthquake-resistant, it is also helping people to cope and helping to save lives when earthquake happens.
for more, click HERE.
and the other thing japan has done well is public education. since 1960, japan as marked 1st sep as disaster prevention day (1 sep is also the anniversary of the 1923 kanto quake) this is one way to raise and maintain public awareness and vigilance.
also, even in schools, one of the first things children are being taught are what to do during evacuation and what to do when there’s an earthquake, yea, in japan, even the kids know that they should hide under tables when the earth shakes.
japan takes this really seriously, there’s a disaster evacuation centre in almost every neighbourhood and yes, you’re supposed to know where and stuff. you’re also encouraged to prepare two earthquake emergency kits per person, one to be kept at home and the other either at work or in school (or wherever it is you spend the most time at outside of your own home.)
and oh, i remember our dear JAIME sharing about how when she and her family first arrived in japan, their residents’ committee(?) had invited her to some talk and gave her the 101 on what to do when there’s an earthquake, etc etc etc.
there are also drills being organized, sometimes public and sometimes organized by the public sections or organizations. drills are mostly about evacuation and can be on a small scale like evacuating from your work building, or bigger scale like evacuating from a subway station, etc.
to find out about how to be prepared, click HERE.
and many reports have surfaced from friday about how for a city as noisy and populated as tokyo, the people are calm and orderly. it’s probably mostly culture, but i also think the fact that they’re all prepared and ‘trained’ helps too.
now, imagine this… electricity and water were out for many many many buildings and homes. what did that mean?
it means that elevators and lifts were not working, it means that trains were not working either. so people had to get out of the train carriages and all were crowding at the stations. i saw photos of passengers standing orderly in lines and they were all standing on the side and leaving the main passageway clear just in case anyone needed to go through quickly.
land and mobile telephone lines were down, and surely everyone’s panicky about the well-being of their loved ones, so there were loooooooooong lines at the public telephone booths. but everyone was just queuing quietly despite how long the lines were and despite how anxious everyone must be. they just quietly waited for their turns.
i wonder if the no-mad-rush and no flying tempers were just something to do with the japanese culture, or if it had something to do with how they were able to rise above themselves and understand that everyone’s anxious and concerned about their loved ones. so long as everyone was quick with his or her turn at the phone booth, it’s actually much more efficient, and i believe everyone would end up being able to reach his or her turn more quickly and safely.
and, without electricity and gas, people were also unable to cook at home; likewise with restaurants. my friends told me they had to walk for hours before being able to find food. (i found out on friday evening that two of my friends were in tokyo then, and they had to walk for hours in search of food. many supermarkets and convenience stores were emptied, and many restaurants didn’t have food anymore…)
many were resorting to buying dry foodstuff from whatever’s available at supermarkets and convenience stores; again huge crowds and long lines but what do we see again? calm people in orderly lines.
no rushing, no quarreling, no squeezing, no looting.
rare, right? i can imagine how tempers can easily fly and how people’s emotions can snap so easily in a time like that… and, i guess we’ve watched enough (sad) news on TV about how people would take to looting in such times, and also how it’s everyone for themselves in most other places.
some citizens were interviewed about the earthquake and all, there were a few who said something that left a deep impression. they said it is when they faced with something as big as friday’s earthquake, that it really struck home at how small and helpless we people can. they are already battling with the wrath of the natural forces, why create more havoc with man-made rows and troubles?
and if it’s each one for his or herself, it will just result in everyone rushing for the same things all the same time, and in the end, probably nobody wins.
personally, i also think it’s respect for other people’s lives. i mean, a life is a life is a life, and there’s no saying my life or my family members’ lives are far more important than yours, therefore everyone’s entitled to their right to live.
so i’ve gotta say i was impressed and awed, even, by the silent resilience of the clear-headed japanese citizens. and i wonder if i would have been able to remain as cool and collected if put in the same situation.
now the aftermath is just as scarily daunting to face and manage. we’re talking about lots of lives lost, even more homes and properties lost. the rebuilding and putting things together again will be long and tedious. immediately daunting are the issues of the potential radiation harm from the explosion of the nuclear plant, and also the shortage of resources. i wonder if electricity and gas have been fully restored and if enough road networks are available to transport the needed food, water, medicine and whatever required.
and, i wonder if it’s time for us to chip in and help….?
wanna read CNN’s take on the japanese citizens’ orderliness? click HERE.
for firsthand accounts from some new zealanders living in japan, click HERE.
or if you prefer to watch clips, click HERE.
on the side, i’m incredibly relieved to hear that the bae-sisters whom we know are safe. and oh, be sure you read TOMATO’s SHARING.
also, don’t miss FLOWERBOSSA’s UPDATE.
meanwhile, everyone please be thankful for everything that we have, big or small, and be gracious to everyone around us. don’t live life with regrets, remember LIFE IS UNPREDICTABLE AND LIFE IS FRAGILE.
in particular, don’t take too long to let your loved ones know you love them.