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6 months after Kumamoto Earthquake, prayers held in remembrance of victims

Mourners lay flowers at a memorial for victims of the Kumamoto Earthquake, in Kumamoto on Oct. 15, 2016. (Mainichi)

KUMAMOTO -- A memorial was held at the citizen's hall in this city's Chuo Ward on Oct. 15 in memory of the victims of the Kumamoto Earthquake in mid-April this year.

The memorial is the first such event held by the city for the earthquake victims, and some 300 people including residents and relatives of the dead came to pray for the victims and renew their hope for the area's recovery from the disaster.

Mayumi Tominaga, a 57-year-old resident of Kumamoto's Chuo Ward, spoke on behalf of the deceased's relatives. Her mother Misao Tsuzaki, 89 at the time, died in hospital early on April 16 after she had been staying in a car following the earthquake's April 14 foreshock. Tsuzaki's death was officially recognized as earthquake-related.

Tominaga said, "More than mourning what was lost in the earthquake, I think that treasuring what I learned from it and living positively are the challenges of my life." She addressed the spirits of those who died, saying, "Please watch over us."

Mayor Kazufumi Onishi read prepared remarks, saying, "The road to a life where we can live in peace like before the disaster will be a long one. We will pass on the experience of the earthquake to the next generation in order to make our home here a bountiful one full of hope."

There were a total of 110 Kumamoto Earthquake-related deaths. Fifty died in the quake itself, including those killed by collapsing buildings. Five died due to heavy rains in June -- made more deadly by the earthquake damage -- while 55 died after being forced to evacuate from home. The city of Kumamoto had the most deaths from the earthquake of any municipality in the prefecture, at 47. Four were directly from the earthquake, two were from the rains, and 41 were evacuee deaths.

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