Victims of 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes Remembered; 276 people Died in Southern Japan’s Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Bereaved family members offer flowers during a memorial ceremony on Sunday at the Kumamoto prefectural government office in Kumamoto.

KUMAMOTO — Bereaved family members and others offered prayers on Sunday for the victims of the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes, marking eight years since the tremors occurred.

The temblors registered the highest level on the Japan seismic intensity scale of seven, and 276 people died in Kumamoto and Oita prefectures due to the earthquakes.

A ceremony organized by the Kumamoto prefectural government was held to remember the victims, and 28 people attended. They offered silent prayers and laid flowers in front of a memorial monument at the disaster control center of the prefectural government in Kumamoto.

Kumamoto Gov. Ikuo Kabashima said, “We will never let the lessons learned from the significant number of victims fade away, and we will build Kumamoto [Prefecture] to be a place where residents can live happily with a sense of security.”

This year, no speech was given by a representative of the bereaved family members, with the burden on them for doing so taken into consideration. On the other hand, mourners other than the bereaved family members were also allowed to lay flowers, a practice that was halted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Mashiki, Kumamoto Prefecture, where a pair of quakes registering seven struck, people offered flowers and prayed at the Earthquake Memorial Park in front of the town’s government building.

The pair of earthquakes took place on the night of April 14 and in the early hours of April 16, 2016. About 80% of the deaths were believed to have occurred in the wake of the disaster, resulting from situations such as the worsening of their physical conditions due to prolonged evacuation.

Up to 47,800 people from 20,255 households stayed in temporary housing units. All those housing units were closed at the end of March last year, but four people from two households have yet to be settled due to a land adjustment project.