25 Years On: New School Course Fosters Dedication to Disaster Prevention

Society Lifestyle

Kobe, Jan. 17 (Jiji Press)--In the wake of the catastrophic predawn Kobe earthquake in January 1995, a high school in the western Japan city opened a special course on disaster prevention for the first time in the country.

Kurumi Kishimoto, 32, was one of the first students who entered the course at Hyogo Prefectural Maiko High School in the city's Tarumi Ward in 2002.

She was a second-grader at a local elementary school when the earthquake occurred on Jan. 17, 1995.

Kishimoto says she was awakened abruptly by "earth-rumbling sounds" that she had never heard. Her family's seventh-floor apartment in Kobe's Hyogo Ward was shaken violently, with dishes falling from shelves. As dawn was breaking, Kishimoto was "terrified" to see collapsed power poles and fires rising here and there.

As the apartment lost power and gas supply, she temporarily stayed at a relative's home in the city's Nishi Ward. Her elementary school was closed for about a month after the disaster that killed more than 6,400 people in Kobe and nearby areas and injured over 43,000 others. It was the first quake that registered 7, the highest reading on the 10-notch seismic intensity scale used by the Japan Meteorological Agency.

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