Da Asahi Shimbun del 21/03/2005
Originale su http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200503210089.html

Quake evacuees rush to leave island

More than half the 700 islanders flee for Fukuoka, where the temblor terrified shoppers.

FUKUOKA-Sunday's earthquake hit Genkaijima island especially hard, with at least eight of the island's 700 residents injured and 395 of them deciding to evacuate by ship.

The island in Fukuoka's Nishi Ward is located at the mouth of Fukuoka Bay and thus was closer to the epicenter of the quake than downtown Fukuoka.

Police said 10 houses on the island were completely destroyed. Aerial footage from TV broadcasts showed badly collapsed roofs on many homes.

Injured islanders were transported to hospitals in Fukuoka. At least four were airlifted by helicopters.

Many islanders took refuge at the island's community hall and other public places because of cut-off water supplies, disrupted phone communications and extensive damage to homes.

The city government of Fukuoka prepared for islanders to evacuate to a gym in the city.

The Fukuoka prefectural government also requested assistance from Self-Defense Forces troops, who were dispatched to the island in the afternoon, officials said.

Many Genkaijima islanders decided to leave as quickly as possible. Some had already arrived at Hakata pier in Fukuoka's Hakata Ward by boat Sunday afternoon.

"I got on the ship almost empty-handed,'' said Yumiko Ito, 53, who left with four family members after the earthquake severely damaged her home. Furniture had collapsed and windows were broken.

"The aftershocks were so terrifying, we were afraid we would die,'' she said.

Business and shopping centers in downtown Fukuoka were also chaotic after the quake.

The ground was littered with glass when office-building windows shattered in the city's central Tenjin district.

Three department stores in Tenjin were filled with Sunday shoppers. The stores used loudspeakers to issue directions for people to leave.

The department store Iwataya in Tenjin had about 7,000 to 8,000 shoppers when the earthquake hit. About a dozen injured customers were taken to nearby hospitals. Most of the injuries were slight, caused by falls, a department store official said.

A 31-year-old female shopper in Fukuoka said the moment of the jolt was terrifying. ``I heard screams from all over,'' she said. ``I saw a woman coming out whose face was bleeding.''

Elsewhere, a giant Ferris wheel at Marinoa City in Fukuoka's Nishi Ward stopped operation as soon as the jolt hit. Though most cabins were full, there was no panic, the operator of the ride said.

In other damage, a popular artificial beach called Seaside Momochi in Fukuoka's Sawara Ward was cracked by the quake.

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