World Tsunami Day Evacuation Exercise


An evacuation drill for train passengers took place in a coastal city in western Japan on Friday, designated World Tsunami Awareness Day.

The exercise was organized by the city of Hirogawa in Wakayama Prefecture and the West Japan Railway Company. About 100 people, including students from the local primary school, attended.

The exercise was based on a scenario of a train on the JR Kinokuni Line making an emergency stop due to a massive earthquake originating from the Nankai Trench off the Pacific coast of Japan.

Participants got off the train onto the tracks about 1 meter lower, as stated in a train announcement.

Guided by the train crew, they were evacuated to a Shinto shrine on the heights about 500 meters away.

A fifth grader said learning to evacuate was good because he often takes the train.

Yamauchi Takao, safety promotion manager at the JR West branch in Wakayama, said he hoped the repeated exercises with residents would help them evacuate safely in an emergency.

The United Nations designated November 5 as World Tsunami Awareness Day based on the events of an earthquake that hit what is now the city of Hirogawa on this day in the old calendar in 1854.

Soy sauce maker Hamaguchi Goryo saved the lives of locals by setting fire to his precious sheaves of rice and guiding them to safety.

He later paid to have a dike built to help protect residents from further tsunamis.

Also on Friday in the town of Hirogawa, a group of about 70 elementary and secondary school students visited the dike. A ritual was held in front of a cenotaph built for Hamaguchi to mourn those who died in past tsunamis.

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