Friday, May 9, 2008
I felt the earth move 


Last night, I felt the earth move under my feet. Twice.

It was the wee hours of the morning, I was reading in bed with the night light on. I thought I was hallucinating when I heard a faint rumbling in the distance and felt my apartment walls shaking. I stood up to assess the situation and immediately felt the uncomfortable disequilibrium in my head, and I knew it was an earthquake.

It felt like a long time, 10 seconds maybe. Paranoid, I was about to run out of my room in case things started falling and I imagined rousing Jo from her sleep to save her from danger.

From the news-

TOKYO (AP) - A magnitude 6.8 earthquake off the Japanese coast rattled Tokyo early Wednesday but did little damage, the national Meteorological Agency said. No tsunami warning was issued.

Two people suffered minor injuries from falling furniture, public television broadcaster NHK said reported. An 18-year-old man was hit when his stereo speakers fell onto his bed, and a 25-year-old man was hit by objects rattled off shelves.

There were no other immediate reports of injuries or damage, though the quake woke up some residents of the capital, NHK said.

The epicenter of the quake that struck at 01:45 (16:45 GMT) was offshore, 161 kilometers (100 miles) northeast of Tokyo and at a depth of 40 kilometers underwater, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A second quake hit in the same area about half an hour later with a magnitude of 5.3 in the Richter scale, and more aftershocks could hit later, Tamotsu Aketagawa, an official who monitors earthquakes for the national Meteorological Agency, told The Associated Press.

"Since it was a very large-scale earthquake, we would expect to see some modest aftershocks," he said.

However, the broadcaster reported that power lines and communications were running normally and no injuries or minor damage had been reported. An hour later, regularly scheduled programing had resumed.

Japan is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world, although Tokyo has not been hit with a major quake since the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake killed 140,000 people.

An earthquake of that size, about a magnitude 8, occurs once every 200 to 300 years.

It reminded me of how I was completely oblivious to tremors when I first moved here.

One day, sitting in our bedroom, P and I were working on our separate computers when he suddenly grabbed my hand and dragged me out of the room.

"Earthquake!" he had shouted and I was more amused than shocked by his reaction. I had felt nothing, much to his annoyance.

"You mean you didn't feel that?" he had asked me in disbelief.

"What could have happened?" I replied somewhat defiantly.

"For one, the glass on our windows could have shattered. Things could start falling and hit you on the head. You should always be very, very careful with earthquakes."

I shut up and nodded.

I'm glad nothing bad happened last night.

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Female. Singaporean
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