By Eddy Montilla
Japan is very famous for its cars, computers, etc., but also because people rarely show emotions in their faces. This characteristic has disappeared in many of them, at least, during these days after the earthquake. I have seen a lot of people crying regardless age, class or gender. They cried because of what they saw (disasters) or because of what they lost (property and relatives). Just a couple of minutes ago, I saw an old man leaving his designated refuge area to go to the place where his house should have been. He found nothing of it.
The old man began to cry…and not because he had lost his house, but because he had not found his family yet. Similar to him, there are cities like Kesenuma, Ishinomaki, Iwate, etc. where there are many people who have lost relatives or know people who certainly have. At the moment I am writing these lines, the death toll exceeds 7,650 and missing people are more than 11,700. These are the results of an earthquake so strong that was able to move the Oshika Peninsula in Miyagi prefecture 5.3 meters and dropped it 1.2 meters.
In Japan, many schools and community centers are designated refuge areas in case of disasters. Nine days after the earthquake, these places are crammed with families, many of them living in a four square meter blanket or less. Things become worse because of lack of food, water, light and gas. For me, Miyagi is like the door that leads to the northern part of Japan, I mean, it is a cold area. Spring has not come yet here and temperatures are still quite low. Two days ago, hundreds of people (including me) had to wait in lines for more than 4 hours outside, defying strong winds and temperatures around three degrees early in the morning to buy some food. Others, who had to spend nights out in the open or inside cars, were obviously in more difficult situations.
Yesterday I went downtown, and considering it was Saturday, Sendai city was “deserted”. The most important shopping malls were closed. I think that it will take more than a month to see people in the streets walking again as they did in the past. In other cities, like those I mentioned before, out of respect for what happened there and their inhabitants, I don’t dare set a date.
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