Japan today marked the 20th anniversary of the Kobe earthquake that killed more than 6,400 people with renewed calls for the quake-prone nation to stay vigilant against the next “Big One.”
More than 14,000 people gathered to commemorate the victims in the western port city of Kobe, where a 7.2-magnitude quake hit at 5:46 am on January 17, 1995.
The quake, which killed 6,434 people, levelled much of the city and sparked a major review of quake preparedness in the island-nation that suffers about one fifth of the world’s most powerful tremors.
Kobe survivors and family members of victims gathered before dawn to lay bouquets and light thousands of candles in a park used as an evacuation centre after the 1995 jolt.
Later in the day, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko attended a memorial ceremony in the city and offered a one-minute prayer with some 500 other participants.