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Kobe marks 26th anniversary of 1995 Hanshin quake that claimed 6,434 lives

The words "Gambaro 1.17" are spelled out with lanterns in a tribute as people observe a moment of silence for the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake of Jan. 17, 1995, at Kobe East Park in the city's Chuo Ward at 5:46 a.m. on Jan. 17, 2021. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)

KOBE -- The western Japan city of Kobe on Jan. 17 marked the 26th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, with bereaved families and other participants paying tribute to the 6,434 victims of the temblor in a ceremony.

    At Kobe East Park in the city's Chuo Ward, participants observed a moment of silence for the victims at 5:46 a.m., the time the earthquake struck, in front of the words "Gambaro (meaning 'let's stay strong' or 'do our best') 1.17" spelled out with lanterns.

    In the ceremony, 65-year-old Midori Kaga, a master of classical Japanese dance who lost her 6-year-old daughter Sakurako to the disaster, represented the bereaved families of the victims, placing flowers at the scene.

    "I want to see you at the age of 32 which you have become," Kaga wrote in a message addressed to her daughter. "At a time when things are difficult across the world, please watch over us." To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the message was not read out, but was instead released on the website of the Kobe Municipal Government.

    Trumpet player Akira Matsudaira performs at a ceremony to commemorate the victims of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, early on Jan. 17, 2021, in Kobe's Chuo Ward. (Tatsuya Fujii)

    The 1995 quake, which measured a full 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale, directly struck Kobe and the surrounding Hanshin area, as well as Awaji Island. Including indirect deaths linked to the earthquake, a total of 6,434 people died and three were left missing. Altogether 43,792 people were injured, and around 250,000 homes and buildings were fully or partially destroyed.


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