Japan Holds Annual Quake Drills

Hundreds of thousands of people across Japan joined an annual earthquake drill Saturday marking the anniversary of a devastating temblor that wiped out the capital 84 years ago.

Japan Holds Annual Quake Drills
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a mock state of emergency at his office, where defense, police and fire officials gathered for the simulated drills.

More than 600,000 people across Japan participated, commemorating the Sept. 1, 1923 Great Kanto earthquake, a magnitude-8.3 temblor in Tokyo that killed more than 140,000 people.

Saturday's drills came weeks after a magnitude-6.8 quake in central Niigata state killed 11 people and injured more than 1,000. The July 16 temblor also caused malfunctions and leaks at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, raising concerns about safety at Japan's nuclear power stations.

In Shizuoka -- about 95 miles west of Tokyo -- where experts say a major quake is due any time, prefectural and utility officials inspected Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant, simulating information relays and firefighting procedures. People practiced carrying the injured on stretchers.

The U.S. Navy in Japan also participated for the second straight year. The USS Tortuga and its crew were sent from the Yokosuka naval base near Tokyo to evacuate Japanese commuters. A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from nearby Camp Zama transported medical and other relief supplies.

Japan is one of the world's most earthquake-prone nations, and Tokyo has a 90 percent chance of being hit by a major quake over the next 50 years, experts say.

Last Mod: 01 Eylül 2007, 07:50
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