Nearly one and a half million people took part in Japan's biggest peacetime anti-disaster exercise last week (16 November).
GV Yaezu City skyline in Japan
SV Police car driving through streets
SV People in helmets evacuating aided by police (3 shots)
SV Helmeted children evacuate school
GV Helmeted workers leaving factory
SV Man rings warning bell (ZOOM OUT)
GV Fishing boats from port make for open sea
SV Officials hurry to meeting at National Meteorological Agency (2 shots)
SV INTERIOR Officials at meeting (2 shots)
SV Police cars carry head of meeting to brief Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira
GV Fire-engine drives up
SV Woman with young child among crowd with helicopter flying over evacuees with children on their backs (5 shot)
SV Woman prepares food in emergency field kitchen (2 shots)
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Background: Nearly one and a half million people took part in Japan's biggest peacetime anti-disaster exercise last week (16 November). It was staged after seismologists warned a major earthquake could strike a wide area southwest of Tokyo at any time.
SYNOPSIS: The city of Yaezu is in the area likely to be affected. Seismologists believe an earthquake measuring about eight on the open-ended Richter scale, similar to one in 1923 that killed about 140,000 people in Tokyo and Yokohoma, could strike the area at any time. In this simulated exercise people were asked to behave exactly as they would if the real thing happened--including the donning of special safety helmets.
The sound of bells and sirens marked the beginning of the exercise--and fishing boats were ordered to leave ports to escape possible tidal waves.
An emergency meeting at the National Meteorological Agency monitored both the success of the simulated evacuation and news of recent tremors. Shortly before the exercise began, three mild earthquakes with intensities of between one and three on the Japanese scale of seven shook parts of Japan's main island of Honshu and an area east of Tokyo. The Prime Minister Masayoshi Ohira was briefed by a member of the emergency committee.
Police and emergency teams closed major roads for up to twenty minutes, while army helicopters carried tents, blankets and other equipment to set up emergency hospitals and blood transfusion centres on open ground.
During the past year about a thousand earthquakes, most of them relatively weak, have shaken wide areas of the Japanese archipelago. Besides allowing those in charge of evacuation and rescue operations to test their programme, the simulated exercise helps prepare people psychologically for disaster situations. Officials reported they were pleased with the response to the drill.