Bruneian students in Kyushu, Japan safe after 6.2 quake

National 2 minutes, 26 seconds


THE Brunei Embassy in Japan has confirmed that six Bruneian students living in Kyushu, Japan, are safe following a 6.2 magnitude earthquake that shook the country’s southernmost island on Thursday night.

The embassy said officials had contacted the six university students in Kyushu – a two-hour flight from Tokyo – to ensure their safety. Altogether, there are 67 Brunei citizens living in Japan who have registered with the embassy.

While there is no immediate need for the students to be evacuated, officers will continue to monitor the situation, the embassy said yesterday.

If aftershocks continue to threaten the safety of the students, the embassy will send officers to evacuate the students to Tokyo.

Japanese authorities estimate that at least nine people are dead and nearly 800 injured after the quake hit near the city of Kumamoto. More than 40,000 people spent the night outdoors or in temporary shelters.

The threat of increased seismic activity also prompted the evacuation of thousands from the suburb of Mashiki, as dozens of aftershocks were felt, with officials monitoring nearby volcanoes for signs of activity.

A Bruneian undergraduate studying in Kyushu told The Brunei Times that firefighters and military officials filled the roads to evacuate people to the nearest possible “safe area”.

“We had firefighters going through every road, even the _kampung-_style ones, making an announcement to turn off gas and to proceed to the nearest safe area,” the student said.

“By about midnight there was an official announcement that the initial earthquake had subsided and we were allowed to go home or to stay in the university’s gym overnight.”

The university student said everyone who registers as a resident in the area is given a handbook on what to do during emergency situations such as disasters.

“It was definitely scary. This was the first time experiencing a magnitude 6 earthquake… I live on the second storey of my apartment and thankfully nothing too serious has happened to my building. After the initial quake subsided I quickly put together an emergency bag and met up with some other friends to head to the university safe area.”

The undergrad added: “I have to say I was fortunate, although the tremors were strong in the university area, we were somewhat spared. From the news that I’ve seen in the last few hours, it looks like the city centre has taken a heavier hit.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament yesterday that he would mobilise 3,000 members of Japan’s Self Defense Force, police and fire service to join the rescue effort. However, their efforts have been disrupted by aftershocks.

In March 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake hit northeast Japan devastating the country. That quake triggered a massive tsunami that swallowed entire communities and caused catastrophic meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The disaster killed about 22,000 people – almost 20,000 from the initial quake and tsunami, and the rest from health conditions related to the disaster.

The Brunei Times